By Deb Henton, Ed.D.
Winter finally arrived over night on Wednesday, Feb. 29 and forced the school district to cancel school for that day. Canceling school is definitely not something we like to do if it can be avoided, but in this case the safety of students and staff demanded such action.
Last week we announced that a make-up day had been scheduled for Monday, April 23. Since then, I have been asked why the district needs to make up for a single snow day. The answer lies in our flexible learning year.
The state’s approval of the school district’s flexible learning year (four-day week) means that we must provide a certain number of instructional minutes each year. The Feb. 29 school cancellation required us to make up instructional minutes or fall short of the amount we are duty-bound to provide students.
Normally, a district might simply add a day to the end of the school year, but that is not without challenges. The insurmountable challenge of doing so this year was the graduation date. It is very difficult to get seniors to come back to school after the graduation ceremony.
The thought of changing the graduation date was out of the question as many families have already made plans, and many have already printed invitations, or rented facilities, etc.
We tried to find a day that would create the least amount of disruption, knowing full well that no matter the day it would cause disruption for some.
That said, weather cancellations at North Branch Area Public Schools are rare. I can think of only two in the last four years or so. Although we realize that they can cause inconvenience for staff and families we sincerely appreciate your flexibility in making up for lost time.