Schools now juggling weather days

Published 5:27 pm Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Snow may not be a perennial threat for schools in Marengo County, but winter weather has removed all margin for error in local academic calendars.

With each of the schools in Marengo County missing Monday, Jan. 10 due to the threat of inclement winter weather conditions, the systems now find themselves with no room for further disruptions.

Public schools in Alabama are required to be in session 180 days out of the academic year, meaning days must be made up if missed due to or other reasons. Most systems build weather days into their calendar to provide leeway in the event of missed time.

For Demopolis City and Marengo County schools, the impromptu off day provided by last week’s weather will force school in session Monday, Feb. 21, a day which had previously been set aside as a contingency for severe weather.

The schools now face less than desirable circumstances should weather create further issues during the current semester.

“We’d sit down and possibly look at going on a Saturday or using one of our days of Spring Break or possibly adding a day of school,” Demopolis City Schools Superintendent Dr. Al Griffin said.

Griffin said Saturdays and Spring Break days offered better options to the school system than did adding days at the end of the year.

“We want to end school when it’s supposed to end because graduation day is set and families have made their plans,” he said. “Our first option would be utilizing some Saturdays or tapping into Spring Break.”

The prospects for DCS and other local systems are better than those faced by many systems further north in the state.

“I’ve got friends across the state that are looking at three or four straight Saturdays,” Griffin of the weekend school days many systems are now facing due to last week’s winter weather.

One school in the county, Sweet Water, will have two days to make up after last Monday’s miss.

The school was not in session when the Sweet Water Bulldogs won the Class 1A state championship in early December. In order to reach its required 180 days, Sweet Water will be in session during the Feb. 21 President’s Day holiday and for Good Friday, April 22.

For Marengo Academy students, the Jan. 9 miss will represent one of five weather days built into the calendar.

The private school is only required to be in session 175 days over the course of an academic year. The calendar for the 2010-2011 year originally saw 179 full days and one half day planned for MA.