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Snow day forces Shaler, Pine-Richland to alter school calendar

| Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Though the snow is long gone from what might have been the last large snow storm of the season on March 6, many local school districts are adjusting their schedules to make up the canceled school day.

“We thought we were out of the woods, then we get (a snow storm) in early March,” said Shaler Area School District Superintendent Wes Shipley. “Now, unfortunately, we're going to interfere with people's planned (spring) vacations.

“It is what it is.”

Shaler Area students will make up the canceled school day on Monday, March 25, which is the next scheduled make-up day in the 2012-13 school calendar.

It is also the first scheduled day of the district's weeklong spring break.

“It's unfortunate that it breaks up the one week off, but that's our calendar,” Shipley said.

Shaler Area administrators did discuss other options to keep the weeklong break intact, but Shipley said the alternatives disrupted two to three other days in the school calendar.

“We either disrupt families or teachers or both, so we thought it was best to keep it the way it was,” he said.

The heaviest snow fall occurred the morning of March 6 between 1 a.m. and sunrise, according to Lee Hendricks, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Moon.

In the region, snowfall totals ranged from 2 to 12 inches, and locally, snowfall totals ranged from 4.5 inches in Franklin Park to 6 inches in Wexford and 8.5 inches in Glenshaw, according to the National Weather Service recorded totals.

“There was an amazing difference between the amount of snowfall in the east and northeast Allegheny County and the west and northwest,” Hendricks said.

“There ended up being a (snow) band that set up across Butler and east and northeast Allegheny and Westmoreland (counties).

“Basically, a persistent snow band stayed over that area during that event.”

Rachel Hathhorn, spokesperson for Pine-Richland School District, said district officials chose to cancel classes because of slippery road conditions in the early morning hours, when buses and student drivers would have needed to be on the road.

“(Road) crews tried to keep up with it, but we do take the safety of our students seriously and Wednesday was one of those days the road conditions were dangerous,” Hathhorn said.

The Pine-Richland school board was expected to take action at its meeting Monday, March 11, to approve Wednesday, March 27, as the make-up day.

March 27 is the next scheduled make-up day in the approved 2012-13 calendar.

The cancelled school day last week will not affect Hampton Township School District students or the remainder of their school schedule because the district schedules four additional days to its calendar and the March 6 cancellation does not put the district below the 180 school days required by the state.

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or bhofstetter@tribweb.com.

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