School districts facing dilemma over snow days

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Indiana school districts are scrambling and getting creative on ways to make-up the mounting snow days. Some ideas include extending the school day, adding weekends and working online. But will those proposals fly? Most schools and their students don't have the computers and other technology to offer online classes.

All schools will have an option. Glenda Ritz, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, plans to given them an option. Schools will have a tough, a longer school day, or a longer school year and a shorter summer.

Lisa Sedoris's fifth graders at Bunker Hill Elementary School are struggling to catch up. They've missed seven days of class.

"It's a challenge," she said " We are trying to do our best."

Franklin Township is faced with the possibility of extending the school year an extra week. It and other school districts are getting to choose between lengthening the year or lengthen school days.

"For some people it may work," but Superintendent Dr. Flora Reichanadter says probably not in Franklin Township. "That's a lot of time to add to one particular day," she explained.

Under Ritz's plan, one hour added to six days would equal one full day schools didn't have to be made up. The solution, however, is more complicated than it sounds.

First graders like Chloe wouldn't get home until 5:30 at night. Dad, eating a school lunch with her, doesn't like that.

"I would say go the extra day as opposed to keeping them in school and extra hour," Mark Hunter said.

That extra hour would mean extra overtime costs for many schools and put teachers in a bind. A lot of them are parents, too.

Reichanadter pointed out, "We would have to ask our teachers to stay longer and for some of them. They would have to make child care arrangements and a lot of child care facilities aren't open that late."

School meals, bus schedules, and athletic events all have to be juggled. At Bunker Hill, children are in their desks before 9:00 am. Some are eating lunch at 11:15 am. If they are in school until 5:00 pm, they are going to be really hungry. Perhaps too hungry to learn, educators say. Schools may need to provide snacks.

When kids get home, "Dinner and sports and whatever activities," Stacy Carlisle said, shaking her head. She is a working mom with two children. Carlisle doesn't want late school nights, but doesn't want a shorter summer, either.

She admitted, "I'm kind of torn" between longer days or a longer school year.

Schools want more details before making any decisions. Indiana's Department of Education plans to have the plans finalized by early next week.