Dear Lancaster Parents, Family, and Friends...
After the winter we've endured, everyone is ready for first signs of spring to emerge. This has arguably been one of the harshest winters on record taking its toll on even the hardiest of us, in a number of ways.
Most significantly for our schools, our entire allotment of snow days was exhausted as were most of us by the unprecedented Snowvember storm. At that time, we began communicating what our plan would be in the event of additional closings a plan that is built into the board-approved calendar so there is no last-minute speculation if we go over our snow day allotment.
In this extraordinary winter, another snow event caused us to close one day in January, and all students received an early start to the President's Week recess when dangerous cold made it imprudent for us to open schools on Friday, February 13.
On the positive side of things, Mother Nature offered at least some measure of cooperation. "Frozen" didn't stop The Little Mermaid, or Seussical, or our Day of Kindness Family Fun Night. All three events went on
according to plan, providing us with a warm, welcomed respite from winter's harsh grasp. As with our stellar musical performances, 'the show must go on,' and in order to maintain the state-required number of student attendance days, we must act on our plan and make up days during the spring recess.
Many of you have posted to social media, asking legitimate questions. "If Snowvember was a declared state of emergency, why do we have to make up those days?" The answer lies with the State Education Department, who only waives the 180-day student attendance requirement if there is no opportunity to make up the deficit during the remainder of the school year. In our case, we still had the December, February, and April recesses to make up days, so there is no opportunity for a waiver.
"Why not take the days from the February break instead of spring?" The simple answer is that February and March is often when winter hits us the worst. To illustrate the point, if school had been in session last week,
there likely would have been additional closings. We would then be shortening two breaks, instead of one.
As we all look ahead to spring, school will be in session on April 9 and 10. Any additional closings would warrant us adding make-up days, beginning with April 8. To assist in your planning for next year, a preview of the 2015-16 school year calendar and proposed make-up schedule can be found at
www.lancasterschools.org/2015_16calendar. Here’s to an early and rejuvenating spring!
Michael J. Vallely, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools