Winter robs Armstrong students of spring break
By Brad Pedersen
Published: Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, 1:31 a.m.
The harsh winter has led to the cancellation of most of spring break for students in the Armstrong School District.
Four of the five days scheduled for spring break — starting April 17 — will be used to make up for four of the eight days that classes had to be canceled because of poor weather this winter. Students will still be off as scheduled on April 18, which is Good Friday.
“It's been an active winter. In some areas it seems like kids haven't been in school very much since coming back from their Christmas breaks,” said Tim Eller, press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Education. “Every region across the state has been impacted by this winter, but schools still have to find a way to make up missed time.”
Armstrong had scheduled the spring break dates and May 23 as off days for students if no snow days had to be made up. With classes now scheduled on those dates, the district still has three days it has to make up. That might mean adding three days to the school year, which was to end with graduation ceremonies on June 5.
“Right now, we're talking about adding the additional days on to the end of the year,” said Jon Fair, district director of transportation, child accounting and safe schools. “We're waiting to see if the state is going to offer any kind of relief before making a final decision.”
That relief could be shortening the state's requirement that students attend classes at least 180 days — something that can be done only by the General Assembly, which has not done so since the severe winter in the 1995-96 school year, Eller said.
A solution that would require approval from the state Department of Education would be to allow longer days of classes to make up for the lost time without adding days to the school calendar. Armstrong officials are considering that option, but have held off on requesting permission for that type of relief.
“Honestly, we're worried we could miss more days of school because of the weather,” Fair said. “There's still a lot of the school year left to go, but there's also a lot of winter left, unfortunately.”
Sarah Barker, whose children attend Elderton Elementary School, said although her family had no plans for spring break, missing the annual time off is disappointing. She, like Fair, is also not ready to accept that the worst of winter has passed.
“I understand that we have to make up snow days sometime, so this was kind of expected,” Barker said. “I just hope we don't miss any more.”
Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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