This isn’t exactly the longer school year Gov. Chris Christie has in mind, but the last day of school may be later than planned in June as snow days eat up school days on pre-approved school calendars.
Each public school district in New Jersey makes up its own calendar year, but must meet the state mandate that students attend for 180 days. The school year must also be completed by June 30, the last day of the fiscal year.
Most school districts build a couple of snow or emergency days into the approved calendar, but in most districts those days have now been used up, and winter is far from over. The question then becomes when to make up the days.
A survey of area school officials found most will add a couple of days to the end of the year in June and are not yet panicking. Districts that take a weeklong spring break may take days out of that week. If it keeps snowing, some may have to do both.
Upper Deerfield Superintendent Peter Koza said he is not too concerned yet, because there are still days in June they can add, plus the spring break.
“However, we are only in January and the next six weeks could raise the concern level should we get close to needing these days,” Koza said in an email.
West Cape May Superintendent Alfred Savio said his district built three days into the calendar, and have now used them, so days will be added in June. Tuckerton Superintendent David Gray said they will take days out of spring break as needed.
Pinelands Regional Superintendent Robert Blake said Pinelands plans to add the days in June, but several more snow days might require taking days from spring break or looking at other options.
Vineland has already used four snow days, and on Thursday the school district released a revised school calendar that moves the last day of school to June 25. The revised calendar notes that if there are still additional snow days, they will continue to be added in June. If all available days in June are used up, days will then be taken from the weeklong spring break at the end of April.
Some district officials are still biding their time before making any commitments.
“Yes, we are concerned!” interim Commercial Township Superintendent Shelly Schneider said in an email. “However, we are not revising the calendar until we get through February. We would like to make one revision.”
One option no one has yet mentioned is holding a shortened school day on Saturday. While not popular, school has been held locally on Saturdays, most recently in 2010, when a blizzard closed some schools for a week. Wildwood, Wildwood Crest and Stone Harbor all held school on one or more Saturdays to make up days rather than adding them all in June. Some cited the beginning of the tourist season in June and the need for older students to start summer jobs, and others said they could use the Saturdays more productively to prepare for state tests.
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