Schools hope to avoid make-up days

With the multiple inches of snow that fell on most of Franklin County last week, schools in both the Franklin County and Russellville City school systems dismissed classes and closed campuses on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to make sure students, faculty and staff weren’t having to travel on icy roads to get to and from school.

Students and teachers alike celebrated the unexpected three-day break from school, but many immediately began to wonder which spring holidays, scheduled when the weather would actually be nice, would get cut short or cut altogether in order to make up the snow days.

However, thanks to a statewide declaration of emergency made by Gov. Robert Bentley last Monday afternoon, those spring holidays should remain intact.

On Feb. 10, Bentley declared all Alabama counties to be in a state of emergency with the winter storm looming in the forecast.

One section of that declaration specifically pertained to schools and specified that schools would not be penalized for lost days while the state of emergency was in effect.

However, local school officials would have to submit written requests to the state board of education and the state superintendent in order to have those three snow days officially forgiven.

“I sent a letter to the state board requesting that our system not have to make up the days we missed because of the snow and ice,” Russellville City Schools Superintendent Rex Mayfield said.

“Due to the number of instructional hours we have, I feel like they will approve this request. If they do, I know it will be a relief for our students and teachers.”

Mayfield said without the declaration and the approval to not make-up the missed days, his system would have to figure out ways to make up that missed time.

“In the event that the request isn’t approved, I would sit down with the principals and determine the best route for us to take to make up this time,” he said.

“We would make every effort to keep our spring break intact because we know many people make plans for that week months in advance.”

Franklin County Schools Superintendent Gary Williams said he had also made a request for the three snow days to be forgiven for the county schools.

“We already go to school 12 minutes longer each day above the required instructional time, so I don’t believe we should have a problem being approved to not have to make up these snow days,” Williams said.

“The only holidays we have left are spring break, so I would hate to have to cut into that time. Another option would be to lengthen the schools days for a time period in order to make up the lost time from the snow days.”

But both Mayfield and Williams said they feel certain that their requests would be approved, especially in light of the emergency declaration by Gov. Bentley.

West Elementary kindergarten teacher Tara Vincent said it would alleviate a lot of pressure if the snow days were forgiven by the state.

“It isn’t that often that we get a good amount of snow in Alabama, and I was excited that I got to play in the snow with my family,” she said.

“It also gave students an opportunity to get outside and play. The extremely cold temperatures we have been experiencing lately have kept our students confined indoors too much.

“But as fun as all that was, it would be difficult to make up those three days. An already tight schedule with schools starting back later in August for tourism in the state made our school schedule not very flexible with dates.

“Russellville City already has to go until May 29 for students and May 30 for teachers. We don’t have many holidays left besides spring break to make up days, so I would be relieved to know for certain we weren’t having to make up those days.”

Williams said they should get an answer soon as to whether the days missed due to snow were approved or not, but he said he feels confident they should be.

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