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School snow days abound this winter

School snow days abound this winter

February 8th, 2019 by Helen Wilbers in Local News

Photo by Julie Smith /Fulton Sun.

Snow, ice and freezing temperatures — Central Missouri is weathering a rough winter.

The weather has been rough on area schools as well. Districts have missed multiple days, sometimes in a row, and are approaching their limits on planned-for snow days.

New Bloomfield R-3 used up its last of six planned-for days on Thursday, when below-freezing temperatures and drizzle threatened to make a slippery mess of roads. South Callaway R-2 is also out of days, while Fulton-58 still has two snow days with planned make-up dates available. North Callaway officials did not respond to requests for comment. All Callaway County public schools were closed Thursday.

New Bloomfield Superintendent Sarah Wisdom said Thursday her district's first two scheduled make-up days are March 25-26

"Any more days will automatically be placed on the end of the year," Wisdom said. "We are still getting out mid-May."

Normally, the district doesn't use up planned snow days this rapidly, she said.

"We have had mild winters lately so this is more than we have had for a few years," she said. "Certainly not our highest though."

The worst year South Callaway Superintendent Kevin Hillman can remember was his first on the job with the district.

"My first year here, we missed 13 days but last four years we've missed three or four," he said. "The least has been two."

Fulton Superintendent Jacque Cowherd agreed, saying this is the most snow day-dense year he can recall in the last decade.

During the current school year, the South Callaway district has already had eight weather-related days off, using up the six planned-for days and then some.

"This would be a heavy year," Hillman said. "We've also had a couple of early releases, and one late start."

The district introduced late starts this year, for those mornings when an hour or two of sunlight is likely to clear the roads. It's worked well, he said.

Hillman noted Missouri's policy on how school districts should handle snow days will be changing in the next school year. The change will put more control into the hands of individual districts, he said.

"It'll be more based on hours instead of days," he said. "We're still deciding what to do."

Upcoming planned weather make-up days include Feb. 18, March 18-19 and April 22. Additional days may be added at the end of the school year.

Cowherd said the high frequency of snow days has been tough on the district and students alike.

"You want continuity in education," he said. "Not only that, but every activity in the school revolves around the week. Little things like the play practice — the play will go on, but maybe kids haven't had an adequate time to prepare."

While snow days are necessary for student and bus driver safety, Callaway County's school districts are ready for spring.

"It's also stressful for parents, when you think about kids being out of school," Cowherd said. "The first day or two's kind of fun, but it gets old after a while."

Cowherd said the district's snow make-up days are integrated into the calendar as regular school days.

According to Jefferson City Public Schools officials, JCPS was initially set to have its last day of school May 16, but snow make-up days have pushed that date off until May 22, as of Thursday.

JCPS has snow make-up days scheduled for May 20-22. Other JCPS snow make-up days include May 23 and 28.

If the school district has a snow day on or before Jan. 4, the school district will use Presidents' Day as a weather make-up day, according to its website. If it does not have a snow day before Jan. 4, then school would not be in session on Presidents' Day.