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Schools now weigh makeup day options
Gainesville, Hall systems debate effect of adding to school year, days
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More on the way?

The forecast calls for another slight chance of snow tonight and Tuesday night, but don't run out and buy a snowblower just yet. The chance of precipitation is low and little or no accumulation is expected.

Today: Mostly cloudy, high near 45.

Tonight: A slight chance of rain and snow before 1 a.m., then a slight chance (20 percent) of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 32.

Monday: Mostly cloudy, high near 43.

Monday night: A 30 percent chance of rain after 1 a.m., low around 35.

Tuesday: Rain likely. Cloudy, with a high near 41.

Tuesday night: Chance (50 percent) of snow. Cloudy, with a low around 32.

National Weather Service

 

After a week off due to snow, local school leaders have now spent a week wrestling with just how to make up those lost days.

Days could be tacked on at the end of the school year, but that could leave teachers cramming in material before standardized tests that are given in the early spring.

Days could be made up on weekends, but after a survey of teachers and parents, that's not a popular option.

Lengthening some school days also is an option, but after-school activities would pull the short stick in that scenario.

No matter the option, educators agree the time must be made up somehow.

Gainesville and Hall County systems released surveys last week to determine which options parents and teachers would support.

"I think any time you can involve all your stakeholders in decision processes is a good thing," said Greg Williams, principal at West Hall High School. "Sometimes decisions must be made just because of time constraints, but feedback is helpful."

Early results from Hall County showed a majority of respondents supported extending the school year and asking the state to extend the high stakes testing window to accommodate for lost instructional time.

One day already was added to the calendar for both systems after Tuesday's school board meetings. About 69 percent of parents and 53 percent of employees in Hall County backed the decision to add Feb. 21, President's Day, as an instructional day.

Results from Gainesville's survey are not yet available.

Ted Deppe, East Hall High School graphics communication teacher and girls volleyball coach, said he voted to add Feb. 21 back to the calendar, but he had some concern about other options.

Lengthening the school day could impact sports schedules, he said.

"If we stay longer in school that's less time for practice after school," he said.

Gainesville High School business teacher Helen Perry said she would support any of the options, but she has reservations about the half-day Saturday school.

She said it's better for students to have a break at the end of the school week.

Gainesville parent Beth Weikel agreed.

"I think it would be counterproductive for the students," she said.

About 74 percent of Hall County parents voted they "strongly disagreed" with that option.

School leaders are still weighing their options for how to make up the time, but they also are looking ahead to how to prevent the problem next year.

Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield said the district could build a few snow days into next year's academic calendar, which has been done in the past.

The system is also looking at ways to turn snow days into virtual learning opportunities, such as offering online activities to snowbound students.

Teams will meet this spring to study the idea and develop templates for digital content.

"It won't help us for the situation we're in now but it could be a great investment in the future," Schofield said.

As for this year's problem, Schofield said Hall County Schools will wait to see if any decisions about snow days are made at the state level, due to the widespread effects of the snowstorm, before taking further action.

Gainesville leaders have already made a decision to push 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.

But makeup dates are still up in the air.

The Gainesville system will hold an emergency school board meeting Friday to discuss the issue.

 

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