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Weather causing constant Southmoreland schedule reshuffling

| Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

It is an extreme understatement to say the weather has played total havoc with the Southmoreland school year.

After schools were closed Friday, it marked the ninth time the district shut down this school year (eight for weather purposes, once due to a power outage.)

The board had actually approved a schedule at its Feb. 13 meeting which would have extended the school year — as far as class instruction is concerned — to June 1.

However, another “snow day” makes that schedule null and void.

“It will be revised again,” said Superintendent John Molnar when contacted the morning of Feb. 14.

As of Tuesday, the schedule is as follows:

The last day of classroom instruction will be June 3.

June 4 will now be designated as an Act 80 day.

June 5, 6 and 9 will be in-service days and June 10 will be classified as a clerical day.

Of course, this or whatever schedule results if school has to be closed for even more days will have to be approved by the board.

“It will be voted on in the near future,” Molnar said. “There's no other options left at this point.”

What remains in the air is a date for graduation, which was originally scheduled for May 30. Molnar said he is exploring whether he can use Saturdays as possible days for seniors to have graduation practice.

“I don't know at this point what waivers I have for seniors,” Molnar said.

The relentless winter has forced a large amount of shifting of the school schedule.

At the board's Feb. 6 meeting, Molnar explained the district would be permitted to use three days initially considered in-service days (Aug. 23, Jan. 20 and June 2) as Act 80 days. Thus, those days could be counted as days of student attendance in meeting the requirement for 180 days of instruction, since the time was spent tending to items dealing with staff development, curriculum development or strategic planning.

Those days were approved as part of the motion to adjust the schedule at the Feb. 13 meeting.

Each of the eight board members in attendance voted for the motion, but Ken Alt did offer an opinion.

“We have tried to find ways to not move up the date of graduation and the amount of time that we have school,” Alt said. “I kind of think that defeats the whole purpose. We're here to educate the kids, not give them three days where they don't have to come to school. I think they're being shortchanged by us doing this.”

Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or