Berkshire snow days could nip into summer vacation in some districts
The brutal winter weather could wipe out many local school districts' planned snow days, delaying summer vacation for students and their parents.
As of Thursday, public school officials reported using nearly half to all the 5 to 10 make-up days built into their school calendars. Several Northern Berkshire school systems closed on Thursday thanks to a steady, occasionally heavy snowfall throughout the morning.
With subzero temperatures expected Friday morning and the threat of prolonged snow event early next week, area school superintendents may be forced to use their remaining snow days.
Recently, the bitter cold forced Lee Public Schools to close for the day as the diesel engine buses wouldn't start. Several superintendents feared that might happen Friday as forecasters expected wind chills as low as minus 15 overnight Thursday and most of Friday.
Any more weather-related school closings could see the school year in some districts ending in late June — and beyond — if additional class time is interrupted after the last snow day is used.
Southern Berkshire Regional School District Superintendent David Hastings is already hearing rumblings over how to compensate for the lost class time.
"I've had a lot people ask me to look at using April vacation [days,]" he said.
Massachusetts public schools are required to have a minimum of 180 days of instruction and that includes scheduled half-days for teacher-parent conferences and teacher development. If classes are delayed an hour or two due to icy road conditions, double-digit subzero wind chills and other uncontrollable reasons, it counts as a school day.
"We are also required to meet the state's time on learning for both days and number of hours," noted Lee interim schools Superintendent Al Skorcki.
Elementary schools must have at least 900 hours of class time for the academic year; the high school minimum is 990.
Many school districts surpass those thresholds, because of their curriculum, as well as taking into account sudden school closings, such as McCann Tech in the Northern Berkshire Vocational Regional School District.
"When we get two snow days like we had this week that's double the impact on our academics and shops because of our scheduling," said district Superintendent James Brosnan.
Superintendents say extending the school year can be counterproductive. Snow days in January and February take away from students studying for the state-mandated MCAS assessment tests in March, April and May.
"Adding another day in June doesn't help prepare them for that," said Hastings.
School letting out in late June also shortens the custodial staffs' summer cleaning.
"They need the time to get the buildings ready for the fall and that takes at least two months," Brosnan said.
Snow days can also be a nutritional setback for many students, according to Pittsfield Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless.
"We have hundreds and hundreds of kids who rely on our breakfast and lunch," he said. "For some, no school means going without a good meal for the day."
District Snow days used Current last day Projected last day *
Adams-Cheshire N/A N/A N/A
Berkshire Hills 2 of 5 June 19 June 24
Central Berkshire 4 of 5 June 18 June 19
Farmington River 3 of 5 June 22 June 24
Lanesborough Elem. 3 of 5 June 18 June 22
Lee Public Schools 2 of 10 June 15 June 25
Lenox Public Schools 2 of 5 June 22 June 25
McCann Tech 3 of 5 June 22 June 24
Mount Greylock 4 of 5 June 22 June 23
North Adams 4 of 4 June 22
N. Berk. School Union No. 43 **
Clarksburg 4 June 22
Florida 5 June 17
Savoy 7 June 19
Pittsfield Public Schools 3 of 5 June 19 June 23
Shaker Mountain School Union No. 70
Hancock 2 of 5 June 15 June 18
Richmond 2 of 5 June 16 June 19
Southern Berkshire 5 of 10 June 19 June 26
Williamstown 4 of 5 June 22 June 23
The Pittsfield Public Schools on Friday morning will provide yellow buses only — no other type of vehicle — for students who walk to the following schools:
Pittsfield High School
Second and Lincoln: 7:00
Linden and King: 6:55
Columbus and Robbins: 6:50
Herberg Middle School
Newell and Lyman: 7:12
Howard and Dawes: 7:15
Reid Middle School
Mohawk and Wahconah: 7:10
Dower Square: 7:15
Linden and Seymour: 7:17
Conte Community School
Circular and Robbins: 8:30
Bradford and Daniels: 8:25
Danforth and Francis: 8:20
Morningside Community School
Wahconah and Briggs: 8:20
Lincoln and Wellington: 8:22
Lincoln and Cherry: 8:23
Stoddard and Pleasure: 8:24
Brown and Springside: 8:26
Plunkett and Tyler: 8:30
Crosby Elementary School
Riverview Apts.: 8:20
10 Francis St.: 8:22
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