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Schools decide on makeup day
Gainesville, Hall systems set Feb. 21 as first day to compensate for missed school days
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School children who enjoyed an unexpected break last week now have to make up those snow days.

The Gainesville City and Hall County school boards approved Feb. 21, or President's Day, as the first makeup day Tuesday night.

Leaders also discussed options as to where to add any extra days to the calendar.

"We could consider extending the school day daily or look at half-day Saturday schools in March," Gainesville Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said.

The talks come in the wake of last week's snowstorm that wiped out a full week of classes in both districts.

To help create a plan to replace lost days, school officials sent out surveys this week to parents and staff.

Hall County received more than 5,000 responses and found 40 percent of staff and 36 percent of parents said they "strongly agreed" with extending the school year.

A majority of votes were cast to add Feb. 21 as a makeup day. About 69 percent of parents and 53 percent of employees approved the solution.

But when it came to half-day Saturday classes, 74 percent of parents were opposed.

Gainesville City Schools set a survey deadline for Jan. 25, and will study the results sometime next week.

The board also voted to have an emergency meeting Jan. 28 to look at additional makeup days.

Dyer said to make up for lost instructional time, the district has pushed some of its testing dates forward one week.

The Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests will be administered April 25 and the graduation tests will now begin the week of March 21.

Officials in Hall County will also make a decision about snow days at a later date.

Superintendent Will Schofield said that because the closures were widespread because of the storm, the state could issue a decision about makeup days.

"I'd hate to make a decision and turn around and make a second decision," Schofield said.

There's also the risk that another winter storm could cause more snow days this winter.

"I spoke with the DOT and they said February is the worst month," board member Craig Herrington said. "The worst hasn't hit us yet."

If bad weather strikes again, Schofield said the best options would be to extend the school year or use a couple days of spring break.

He added he doesn't expect the high school graduation dates would be impacted.

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