POTTSTOWN PA – With Old Man Winter threatening to dump another 6 to 12 inches of snow on the Greater Pottstown area doorstep by Thursday morning (Feb. 13, 2014), the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors has modified the school calendar and decided how to make up for days it has already closed schools due to harsh weather and (shudder!) others that may lie ahead.
Pottsgrove had planned for the potential of three “emergency” weather days during the 2013-2014 academic year; it’s already used five. Number Six (and maybe even Number Seven) may occur this week, depending on the ferocity of a Nor’easter forecasters claim will come this way beginning tonight (Wednesday, Feb. 12) and continuing through Thursday (Feb. 13).
Directors pulled on virtual galoshes during their board meeting Tuesday (Feb. 11) , and approved a proposal from Superintendent Shellie Feola to hold classes March 10 (Monday), and April 16 and 17 (Wednesday and Thursday). Under the earlier calendar, students would have had those days off due to parent-teacher conferences and the spring break, respectively.
Additionally, the district will use snow days it budgeted at year’s end, June 11 and 12 (Wednesday and Thursday), to ensure students are in attendance for 181 instructional days as required by Pennsylvania law.
June 13 (Friday) was the third budgeted emergency day. That likely will be sacrificed by week’s end, directors joked, as they anticipate a sixth day of school closures. Other options are available, too, but everyone hopes they won’t be needed.
Director Rick Rabinowitz argued the Feb. 17 President’s Day holiday could easily be eliminated; “I don’t think anyone’s going to miss it,” he said. Feola countered that past years have shown both teacher and student performance suffer “without a break” in mid-winter.
Feola also said leaders of the school’s largest union, the Pottsgrove Education Association, had been “very cooperative” in helping to make calendar adjustments. Its members agreed to modify hours they are available for parent-teacher conferences during two nights next month to accommodate the March 10 make-up day. “They’ve been willing to work with us,” she reported.
And as the board looked at a draft of the 2014-2015 calendar, Feola pointed out that she identified 11 snow day possibilities for next year. “That’s unheard of for a school district,” she proclaimed … but acknowledged they may be a necessity.
Related (to the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors’ Feb. 11 meeting):
Photo by Joe Zlomek for The Post Publications