Snow days extending school calendars until the last week of June
As another winter storm approaches, several Berkshire County school districts have already used a week's worth of snow days, delaying the start of summer vacation.
Central Berkshire Regional School District has maxed out its six scheduled snow days, while Lee, Lenox and Berkshire Hills have crossed off all five on their calendars, according to district officials. Pittsfield and North Adams public schools have each used four and all, except for Lee, currently plan to wrap up the 2013-14 academic year the last week in June.
With most teacher contracts requiring the school year end no later than June 30, several districts are running out of wiggle room. In Central Berkshire and Lenox, June 25 is the last official school day of the state mandated 180-day school year.
"The state doesn't waive the number of days for weather," said Lenox School Superintendent Edward W. Costa II. "If we have to cancel on Wednesday or Thursday, we'll tack on another day."
School superintendents say declaring snow days this year has been tricky as the majority of winter storms occurred just as the school day was about to begin.
"If it wasn't snowing when I got up, you had to guess on the timing," said Alfred Skrocki, Lee's interim schools superintendent. "Part of what we have had to deal with is also the cold and wind chill."
On Jan. 3, many local school districts canceled school, due to a minus 20-degree wind chill deemed unsafe for students waiting outside for a bus or walking to school.
Further subzero weather in January and February prompted Pittsfield Public Schools on seven occasions to provide additional bus service for students walking to and from school.
"It's been one of those winters where I watch almost nightly the forecast between the temperatures and the snow," said Pittsfield School Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless.
McCandless and his superintendent colleagues are keeping a close watch on the latest potential winter storm that could have a wide range of precipitation -- adding to the challenge of declaring a snow day.
"The Berkshires are a tough call as it depends on which way the wind is blowing," said North Adams Public Schools Superintendent James Montepare.
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Snow days ...
A sampling of Berkshire County school districts that have used all or most of their snow days:
School district Snow days used/ Last official scheduled school day*
Berkshire Hills 5/5 June 24
Central Berkshire 6/6 June 25
Lee 5/5 June 20
Lenox 5/5 June 25
North Adams 4/4 June 23
Pittsfield 4/5 June 24
Southern Berkshire 3/5 June 23
* Based on number of snow days used.