Schools now squeezed by snow days

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The dangerously cold temperatures have prompted more than 400 schools to either cancel classes or delay the start of today's school day. For districts that have already used up the snow days built into their curriculum calendar, this was a tough call.  And it's going to lead to tough talk - about how to make those days up.

Calling a snow day when there's a measurable amount of snow on the ground is an easy call.  Snow is a problem anyone can see.  While you can't see the problem today, you can certainly feel it, and it hurts.  But, that's not taking the sting out of the growing problem facing a lot of districts this winter.

No school wants their children standing outside at bus stops when the temperature reads five degrees below zero and wind chills are pushing way below that.  But many schools are already making up three or more snow days and looking at extending their calendars into June.

Dr. Tim Edsell of Anderson said it is a difficult decision. "We want to have our students in school," Edsell said. "We want to prepare them for especially the ISTEP testing that is coming up in March.  So, that is our ultimate goal.  But, at the same time, we want to make sure we are making good decisions that are going to provide the best safety for our students."

Some districts, including Indianapolis Public Schools, have already made the tough decision to extend the year past graduation, hoping many students will come back to school one more day after receiving their diplomas.  But, asking them to do much more than that could be tricky.

Other districts face issues surrounding teacher contracts that are due to expire within a day or two of the end of the scheduled calendar.  So, adding days at the end of the year could become problematic.   

This is just the beginning of a difficult conversation districts all over Indiana will be having in the next few days as they make sure they meet the minimum 180 days of instruction required by the state.