MARSHFIELD — Officials at Twinfield are trying to figure out what to do with the five snow days Twinfield Union School has already racked up with plenty of winter left to go.
At its regular meeting recently, the School Board heard from Washington Northeast Supervisory Union Superintendent Mark Tucker. Tucker told the board as of the first week of February the school has had to close five times this school year due to weather.
Tucker said Twinfield operates 175 school days per year, the state minimum for a school year. He said there are five contingency days built into the calendar for snow days, but those are now all used up. So officials discussed what days could be used if there are more snow days this winter.
The school’s vacation at the end of the month was discussed as a possibility for making up days, but officials said that was too short notice and people likely already had plans for that week. There was more support for potentially taking away vacation days in April.
Pushing the school year into the summer was also an issue because the school offers summer courses and officials didn’t want any overlap there.
Board member Lauren Cleary said those added on days at the end of the summer are “worthless” anyway because teaching has ended. Tucker agreed saying students and some of the faculty have “checked out” by then.
Cleary said the weather patterns aren’t likely to change in the next few years, making more snow days more likely, so the board should be looking at the school years ahead, not just this year to address the snow day issue.
“This is not going to get any better,” she said.
Tucker told the board at least 50 percent of the enrolled students have to show up to school for it to be counted as a school day. He said last month he called in a late start for school because of weather, a day that was already scheduled as an early release day.
“We had a bunch of kids not come in. And we were OK, we were over the 50 percent mark but if we had less than 50 percent of the students come in it wouldn’t have counted as a school day,” he said.
Tucker said if the board decides to start using Saturdays as make-up days, he would prefer they wait until the weather warms up later in the year so a make-up Saturday doesn’t get ruined by snow.
The board discussed possibly adding on hours to current school days, essentially turning one school day into two. But there wasn’t much support for the idea and there was a question as to whether doing something like that would even be allowed by the state. There was also talk about extending the school year going forward to give officials a buffer for snow days.
Tucker said he wasn’t comfortable making any decisions until the board got feedback from the community. He suggested putting out a survey to see what parents would prefer to make up school days.
No action was taken and the discussion is expected to continue at further meetings.