Snow days will lead to Saturday classes for district students


January 27, 2011
WOLFEBORO — Students, teachers, and staff of Governor Wentworth Regional School District should expect to spend some of their Saturdays in school this year.

With an accumulation of more than a foot of snow in one storm and a icy mess in the next Superintendent Jack Robertson, in coordination with the district's Transportation Supervisor, was forced to call off school twice last week and once the week prior.

This means that the district must make up three days (so far) in order to meet the N.H. Department of Education's requirement that students attend 180 days of school per academic year. Due to the Kingswood complex expansion and renovation project the district has already been granted a waiver allowing for fewer days in school (albeit each school day was lengthened by a few minutes) to accommodate for construction.

In the spirit of allowing for a lengthier summer break so that construction can progress, beginning last year the school board agreed to build into the academic calendar five tentative Saturday school make up days. This year these days are scheduled for Feb. 12, March 19, April 23, and May 21 (there was one scheduled for Jan. 15).

Once a happy revelation, for some, the dynamic of a "snow day" has changed since the district switched to Saturday school rather than tacking on make-up days to the end of the school year. Upon hearing of the most recent cancellation one second grader groaned, "there goes another weekend" before rolling over to resume his sleep and a teacher called out to the t.v. as if gambling, "come on, come on, don't let it be," when watching Channel 9 for the cancellations scrolling across the screen.

While no one particularly favors a shortened weekend or giving up a Saturday to a full day of school, come June and most likely the students and staff will both be happy to have already paid their dues. Admittedly the Saturday scheduling can cause some conflict with family activities and students' sporting events, but most will agree that it beats cutting into vacation time, another option utilized by some of the state's school districts. For now the last day of school remains to be June 3, with one Saturday make-up day to spare.

It's important to keep in mind that the decision to call off school is far from arbitrary. It takes time, beginning very early in the morning, and involves careful consideration of the latest forecast as well as advice from state police and some of the towns' Road Agents, before a decision is made as to whether school will run as usual, open late, or be cancelled all together, according to Superintendent Jack Robertson.

It's not an easy call to make for the Superintendent, who both understands the scrambling that ensues for parents who have to make last minute arrangements for their children, but who is also ultimately responsible for the safety of the district's students and staff.

Just like last year, Saturday school will be held during the same hours as a regular school day and the transportation system will run on the same schedule as it does on weekdays.

No matter the preference, a winter Saturday school day or an extra June weekday, with two months left of winter it's likely Mother Nature will bring more "snow days."

Heather Terragni can be reached at 569-3126 or hterragni@salmonpress.com

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