Schools mull options for snow makeup days
by Hannah Morgan
February 12, 2014 04:00 AM | 5828 views | 10 10 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Cobb schools were canceled Tuesday and today, wiped out by another dose of winter weather and adding to the lost classroom time for students amid growing concern over how that time will be made up.

Parents and teachers will be looking for answers to those concerns, while school board members are waiting to hear what their superintendents want to do.

Districts have many options as to how to add back the extra hours of instruction.

One of the most commonly discussed methods is to add extra days onto the end of the school year.

Exactly how Cobb and Marietta schools will make up the lost time has yet to be discussed, school officials say, but students will know within the next month when they will have to sit through the extra hours of class.

The state allows school districts four days off for bad weather. After that, the districts are required to schedule make-up days.

But the State Board of Education will vote next Thursday on a resolution that would give local school districts the option to waive making up at least two days, effectively raising the limit to six snow days, said Matt Cardoza, a spokesman for State Superintendent John Barge.

The resolution would give local school districts flexibility to decide which days are needed to be made up and which days districts are able to make up by adjusting the school calendars. For example, a teacher’s work day could be converted to a regular school day.

But local school officials are already discussing their options.

Marietta Schools more flexible

Marietta City School Superintendent Emily Lembeck said she was waiting for her principals and administrators to get back to the office before she made a call.

The district’s options were vast. she said: add extra days onto the end of the school year, cancel previously scheduled breaks or add hours onto certain days.

She was concerned adding extra days to the end of the school calendar wasn’t the most effective way to make up for the snow days.

“Tacking on days to the end of the school year may not have the best instructional impact on students,” she said.

Marietta’s charter system status may give the district more flexibility in how many hours it is required to make up, Lembeck said.

Until the weather stabilizes, Lembeck said she wasn’t even sure how many days she and her staff had to work with in deciding when to add extra instruction into the calendar.

“We want to make sure our students have a sufficient number of days in which their teachers can provide necessary instruction,” Lembeck said.

Marietta School Board Chair Randy Weiner said he wasn’t sure where the extra time would be scheduled.

“The days we are missing now will have to be made up. They will be added back one way or the other,” Weiner said.

He and the board would follow Lembeck’s lead on how to schedule the extra time, learning from their past decisions.

After a series of snow days in 2010, Weiner said the district added extra hours onto school days for a two-week period, which “got mixed reviews.”

The district already changed its schedule in order to make up some extra time.

Last week, Lembeck canceled parent-teacher conferences for Kindergarten through eighth grade, and instead of half days with conferences, had whole school days. The change added five “half days,” or two and a half full days of instruction back to the youngest students.

Where Marietta City Schools will turn for extra hours moving forward, nobody knows, but Lembeck said she was keeping all the district’s options on the table.

Cobb Schools ‘never been here before’

Cobb’s school board has yet to discuss where lost days will be made up, said board member David Morgan.

Vice-Chair Randy Scamihorn said he wasn’t sure what the board would decide to do, but would be waiting to hear what Superintendent Michael Hinojosa recommended.

“I don’t know, I’ve never been here before,” Scamihorn said.

Depending on how the State Board of Education vote goes, Cobb students might have to change their summer or spring break plans.

“I have seen it in the past where there is a chance of shortening spring break by one to two days,” Scamihorn said.

The board will not be discussing its options at next Wednesday’s work session said Chairwoman Kathleen Angelucci.

This semester’s three furlough days are Thursday, Friday and Tuesday, and it is too late to change the days off and have students come to school to make up for snow days, said Jay Dillon, a spokesman for the district.

If the state votes to allow Cobb not to make up the snow days from January, Dillon said he thinks the district would most likely not make the days up with added days or fewer spring break days, as many families had already made plans.

Before the calendar is changed, the board will discuss if there is a need to make up lost time, how much time would be needed to be made up, and when to make them up, Scamihorn said.

Comments
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Marietta mom
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February 13, 2014
As the article states, Marietta City did add hours 2 years ago to the school day for 2 weeks. There were no "mixed reviews" as Randy Weiner was quoted as saying. I have not spoken to a single parent who liked it. It was simply awful and very hard on all the kids, from the youngest to the oldest. The athletes were at school for 14 hours plus during those days!

I realize it is a difficult situation and not everyone will ever be happy, but please do not add hours onto the school day!
melanieb.
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February 12, 2014
Why is this a big question? Tack on the days at the end of the school year. This should be a no brainer. Hoping that Cobb hires a Superintendent that will stand up to the teachers/parents that always complain and do the right thing for the children! Children are their top priority right?
CobbMom3
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February 12, 2014
Who cares what Hinojosa recommends. It will not change his exit date and he is only here to collect his check before he leaves. Do what's right for Cobb students. EDUCATION is what is best. After the CRCT's are over, the students do little productive work anyway so add onto the school days if that's what needs to be done. The winter break was supposed to be adjusted for inclement weather days but that didn't happen. Parents should be more concerned that we are eliminating more instructional days from the calendar.
Just a thought
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February 12, 2014
If the board would hire Beverly Hall that would take care of the CRCT's.
CobbTeach
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February 12, 2014
Your last sentence says it all. They SHOULD be interested in this!
Not end of year
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February 12, 2014
I will tell you that adding days to the end of the year would be a waste. After the CRCT, the schools require we close the library and take inventory, textbooks are turned in for counts, and it is like school is over already. I think adding an extra five or ten minutes to the day would solve the problem. Good luck taking away Spring break days, because people have already paid for condos and the high school would be empty.
melanieb.
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February 12, 2014
In a situation like this I would think that the school's would make an exception and allow you to take inventory later. I mean really! You want to add an extra 5 - 10 minute's to the day? Good lord! Does that not go against your union? You can't start work before a certain time & you cannot work passed a certain time right? What is more important? The kids education or if you get to go on vacation? You can always change the vacation for your condos. I know. Have done more times that I like to count due to work. It can be done w/o getting penalized.
misplacedblame
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February 13, 2014
Gosh, Melanieb. You should've arrived a little early and stayed a little late for a lit class. The Media Specialists and bookkeepers at the schools (notice there is not an apostrophe) don't make the rules or schedules. They're hardly the ones who would gripe about condos and such. Parents would be beating the door down if spring break and/or end of the year schedules are affected. You must be living in fantasyland if you think condos or rentals of any kind would be flexible on their bookings.
westCobb4
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February 12, 2014
Maybe Cobb schools could start 15 minutes earlier and stay 15 minutes later for several weeks to make up the time. I'd suggest doing it just before the CRCTs and using the extra time for review prior to testing. A 15 minutes change before and after shouldn't have dire consequences on most people's schedules.
Cobb Mom of 2
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February 12, 2014
Great idea, except the buses may be an issue. They run a tight schedule getting the students to school now, adding an additional 15 minutes morning and evening could wreak havoc with the drivers and schedules.
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