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School snow days likely won't melt away

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By Jessica Turnbull
Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010

It's become the snow day with no end for Alle-Kiski Valley schools.

As of 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, 14 of the Valley's 15 school districts had announced school closing today, and Armstrong had already announced there will be no school on Friday.

Riverview School District announced a two-hour delay.

Cancelling classes today were: Allegheny Valley, Apollo-Ridge, Armstrong, Burrell, Deer Lakes, Fox Chapel Area, Franklin Regional, Freeport Area, Highlands, Kiski Area, Leechburg Area, New Kensington-Arnold, Plum and South Butler.

Lenape Technical School and Northern Westmoreland Career and Technology Center are also closed today.

Today is the fifth snow day for most area school districts, many of which are hoping that the Pennsylvania Department of Education will waive the snow days because the area is in a state of emergency declared by Gov. Ed Rendell.

Districts want the requirement of having 180 class days by June 30 waived by the state education secretary, who will receive requests from districts and make case-by-case decisions, said Michael Race, Education Department spokesman.

School districts that hold classes on fewer days can be docked money from the state, Race said.

A waiver would make life easier for district administrators who are busy rearranging the calendar.

Allegheny Valley School District students will attend classes a little longer this school year, said district spokeswoman Jan Zastawniak.

"Our snow days are added to the end of the year," Zastawniak said.

Deer Lakes School District also will add days to the end of the school year, but students are supposed to make up a day on Monday, originally scheduled as a day off for President's Day, said spokeswoman Kathy Makuta.

Fox Chapel Area School District will have make-up days at the end of the school year, said spokeswoman Bonnie Berzonski.

Armstrong School District has snow make-up days in late March and early April.

"We have them built into the calendar," district spokesman Jon Szish said.

Kiski Area Superintendent John Meighan said an early January cancellation was already made up by moving a teacher and staff development date, he said.

Monday's snow day will be made up by having classes this coming Monday, Presidents Day.

Tuesday and yesterday will likely be made up the week after Easter by having students report back to school Thursday, April 8, he said.

Any more subsequent snow days will also be made up the week after Easter, Meighan said.

"It's Western Pennsylvania," he said. "You plan for these types of things."

Leechburg Area School Board Secretary Patti Camp said the district already used all four of its built-in snow days. Make-up for today's cancellation, the district's fifth, will have to be decided.

A Jan. 8 closure will be made up April 6, with the four snow days this week to be determined later.

Staff writers Michael Aubele and Brian Rittmeyer contributed to this report.

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