Days off for local schools piling up along with snow

All Pennsylvania public schools are to be open each school year for at least 180 days of instruction for pupils. Snow, ice and frigid temperatures make that a challenge.

Except for Altoona Area, which began school after Labor Day, all Blair County school districts were scheduled to end school by the first week of June.

But school days may spill into the second week of June because of numerous school cancellations in January and February.

Spring Cove School District’s online calendar shows that school has been extended to June 9 – exhausting every weather makeup day planned for potential use.

The school cancellation Wednesday extended Altoona Area’s calendar by one day, to June 13.

Judging by memory, district spokeswoman Paula Foreman said the snow days of this school year far outnumber those from the past three years at least.

The Altoona Area high school graduation commencement scheduled for June 11 and has not yet been affected by snow days.

“The big concern is graduation,” Hollidaysburg Area Superintendent Robert Gildea said Wednesday while students of his district were at home on a snow day. “We don’t want to push it back into the second week of June,” he said.

The last day of school has been pushed back to June 6. That’s the Friday of the first week of June.

“But it’s not over yet. We still have six more weeks of winter.”

Online calendars for Williamsburg Community and Claysburg-Kimmel school districts also show those districts have pushed the end of school closer to the end of the first week of June.

Tyrone Area’s graduation ceremony and last day of school have been pushed back on day to June 4.

But Bellwood-Antis School District is holding onto its originally slated last day of school.

“As of now, we are even up. We just used our last snow day [on Wednesday],” said Debbie Sitman, secretary for the superintendent. The district has maintained its June 5 student dismissal by substituting a teacher inservice day for an instructional day.

School code allows teacher inservice days to be held after the last day of school for all students, including after the graduation ceremony for seniors.

Like Bellwood-Antis, administrators of districts including Hollidaysburg Area may seek school board approval to tack teacher inservices to the end of the calendar to make room for makeup school days in spring months.

Gildea said the district is considering options to maintain a school end date within the first week of June.

For example, the Pennsylvania Department of Education allows schools to count graduation ceremony practice as an instructional day. And those practice sessions can be held on Saturdays.