RUMFORD (NEWS CENTER Maine) — It’s not even December and the snow days for schools are piling up. And with another storm on the way, some school districts could be looking at their third snow day.
Maine state law requires that students have 175 days of school instruction a year. Most districts build five snow days into their calendar year. When that is not enough, school districts across the state get creative.
Some school districts like RSU 10 (Regional School Unit 10) in Rumford do not build any snow days into their calendar.
Superintendent Deb Alden says so far RSU 10 has had one cancellation, one delay and last Tuesday, during the snowstorm, Alden made the decision not to cancel classes.
Rumford is expecting to get a foot of snow dumped on it Tuesday. Alden says tomorrow will be an easier decision to make, but when the forecast is not clear, she says it’s one of the hardest decisions she has to make.
“It’s not a perfect science.”
Alden says it’s not unusual to have two to three snow days before Christmas, but before December, "that is not normal.”
Alden says last year the Department of Education allowed schools to do five one-hour extensions, which helped their school district make up one school day.
Moving forward, Alden says she will probably discuss this option with the school board. She says they’ll most likely consider it if the Dept. of Education gives that option again this school year.
Bill Webster, the superintendent of schools in Lewiston, says “we do not want to go to the last week of June.”
Lewiston builds in eight snow days into its calendar year. Last year they had nine snow days. It’s the most ever.
“What will happen is we will get through the year and if we have to come up with a plan," Webster said. "We will come up with the plan, it would probably involve adding extra time to the day."
Webster says making the decision to cancel school is not an easy one.
“Most superintendents find this to be the most unpleasant, most difficult decision they have to make," Webster said. "Because you’re impacting peoples lives and how one views the weather could be quite different from how another views the weather.”
Webster says he’s optimistic Lewiston will not reach last year‘s goal of nine snow days.
“We’re still a long way from nine days, but at the same time it’s a long ways from the end of winter too."