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Schools looking for ways to make up snow days

Updated 11:48 am, Sunday, February 23, 2014


  • Workers use heavy equipment to remove snow piles from Howe Avenue in Shelton, Conn. on Thursday, February 20, 2014. Photo: Brian A. Pounds / Connecticut Post
    Workers use heavy equipment to remove snow piles from Howe Avenue in Shelton, Conn. on Thursday, February 20, 2014. Photo: Brian A. Pounds


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Snow Day used by schools
Oxford -- 8
Shelton -- 8
Stratford -- 8
Trumbull -- 8
Ansonia -- 7
Derby -- 7
Milford -- 7
Monroe -- 7
Bridgeport -- 6
Easton -- 6
Seymour -- 6
Fairfield -- 5

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Spring can't come fast enough for area school superintendents who have already plowed through as many as eight snow days this wicked winter.

Once again, at least in some districts, Mother Nature is threatening to wreak havoc with vacation schedules.

School calendar adjustments are underway or are being considered in Ansonia, Shelton and Trumbull. Other districts are finding the last day of school creeping perilously close to the end of June or compromising planned April breaks.

Under state law, schools are required to be in session at least 180 days and must end the school year by June 30. Last year, between Superstorm Sandy and the February 2013 blizzard, many district calendars were pushed up to the end of June and had to sacrifice some or all of the April break.

"We have two more before we have to take days away from April vacation," Fairfield School Superintendent David Title said. At five, Fairfield has the fewest days missed this school year because of the weather.

"We did get a couple of days in during December when others closed," Title said.

The Fairfield school board allows seven school days to be tacked onto the end of the school year before shrinking the April break. As of now, school there will end on June 18.

This year, many school boards took the proactive step of shrinking the traditional one week February break into a four-day President's Day weekend. Some are finding that might not have been enough.

Shelton took just two days off for February break and with eight snow days faces the possibility of dipping into the April break because the board policy says any school cancellations beyond seven will be made up during spring recess. The school board, however, is still considering what to do, School Superintendent Freeman Burr said.

"Last April, we did take days from April (break) and were not able to provide appropriate continuity or efficacy of instruction to our students during that week," Burr said. Staff also said the absence of an April break created a situation where students were in school too long without a break.

"So there is a lot to consider," Burr said. Any decision to take all the days off in June would require a school board vote, which probably won't be taken until the middle of this week.

In Trumbull, one of the few districts to keep a full week February break in its calendar, has already shortened it. In a letter on the district's web site, Trumbull Schools Superintendent Gary A. Cialfi said school will be back in session on Friday, Feb. 21, to make up for the district's eighth snow day, which occurred on Feb. 14. If there should be a ninth snow day, Trumbull will go to school on March 28, which is a teacher training day according to the Trumbull calendar.

Even so, Cialfi said the district is in better shape than it was last year.

With every new snow day in Milford -- it is up to seven -- School Superintendent Elizabeth Feser updates the tentative last day of school on the district web site.

"With all of the delays, early dismissals, and closings, many of us have lost track of when the last day of school will be," she wrote.

As of now, Milford will get out on June 17. Board policy calls for the district not to go past June 20 so three more snow days before April break is compromised there.

In Ansonia, which last year didn't end the school year until June 28 between "hurricane" and "blizzard" days.

In Monroe, where school has been cancelled seven times this school year, Monroe School Superintendent James Agostino said he still has a little wiggle room.

The last day of school at present in Monroe has been pushed to June 20. Another three or four and Agostino said he will consider asking the school board to shorten the April break.

Like other school chiefs, Monroe's Agostino says he is up by 4 a.m. when snow is expected to consult with town officials and other school superintendents before pulling the

"This year, I don't think we've made a bad call yet," Agostino said. "It has just been an unusual year in terms of the timing of the storms."