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story.lead_photo.caption FILE: Road crews throughout the county in 2018 labor to clear away snow. Photo by Helen Wilbers / Fulton Sun.

Across Callaway County, ice and snow have led school administrators to cancel classes multiple times in the past month.

This means some local schools will have to make up missed days.

"There's been some weeks that there have been two days in the same week we've had to cancel," New Bloomfield R-3 School District Superintendent Sarah Wisdom said.

This year, a new state law went into effect changing school calendar requirements and giving schools greater flexibility. Previously, to receive state aid, schools had to have a school year of at least 174 days. Now, the law focuses only on hours — schools must be in session for at least 1,044 hours to receive state aid.

When it comes to inclement weather, which is defined as ice, snow, extreme cold, excessive heat, flooding or tornadoes, schools should not make up more than 60 total hours.

New Bloomfield plans on making up five snow cancellations — two days on the Monday and Tuesday of spring break, March 23-24, and three days tacked on at the end of the school year.

Next year, New Bloomfield is moving to a four-day school week. Wisdom said one of the advantages of the calendar is it will allow the district to better handle snow days. Instead of waiting until the end of the year, schools will be able to make up a cancelled day sooner by having students come in on the fifth day of the week when they would typically be off school.

That's how North Callaway R-1 School District, which is already on a four-day calendar, handles cancellations.

"We build in certain Mondays as inclement weather make-up days," North Callaway Superintendent Nicole Kemp said.

North Callaway has canceled eight school days so far. Right now, the district has scheduled Feb. 24, March 2 and March 23 as upcoming make-up days. The other missed hours have already been made up.

South Callaway R-2 School District, which has a more traditional school week, has missed eight days.

"There's a lot of schools not making up any time," South Callaway Superintendent Kevin Hillman said. "We felt too many missed days could affect our students."

The district plans on making up five of those days at the end of the year, keeping in line with what it's done in the past. In previous years, under the old state calendar policy, the district would make up the first six cancellations.

"Now if we have a horrible end of the winter, we're going to have to make some assessments," Hillman said.

Fulton Public Schools has already had nine full snow days and one early release where students went home one hour early.

The district doesn't have any make-up days planned because the school calendar already accounts for missed school days.

"We go well beyond that 1,044 hour requirement," FPS Communications Director Karen Snethen said.

Fulton's 2019-20 calendar includes 103.3 hours above the state requirement. In November, the board approved the 2020-21 calendar, which includes 86.5 hours above the state requirement.

"Every school district is different this year for the first time," Hillman said. "Before, the calendar was pretty standardized across the state. Now we all have something a little bit different going on."

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