Snow day!

It's every school's worst nightmare and almost every student's best friend.

But this year's wild winter weather has wrought havoc on when summer vacation will begin.

Since Jack Frost came to town, area schools have been forced to cancel classes a handful of times for snow and extreme cold, and there are still nearly two months to go before winter is officially over.

That means that long holiday weekends are getting a little shorter, winter sports schedules are getting a little longer and the end of the year is moving a little farther away.

Dr. Barbara Conway, Jim Thorpe superintendent, said that when the school officials are preparing the academic calendar for the next school year, they make sure to add a few extra days for vacation, which can be used as snow make up days.

Sometimes these days aren't needed and students get a few extra days to sleep in during the school year, but that isn't the case this winter.

Schools across the area, and the Northeast, are needing these built-in days to make up for the missed time.

Many of the superintendents in the area said this week that two long holidays will be cut short in order to meet state requirements. They include the Friday before Presidents Day weekend and Holy Thursday.

Some schools though have opted to save the holidays and build make-up days into the end of the school calendar.

Carole Geary, superintendent of Pleasant Valley School District, explained that the school has built snow day make-ups into the end of the year for years and compensates for this by setting graduation a week after classes normally would end.

At Carbon Career & Technical Institute in Jim Thorpe, which hosts students from all five school districts in Carbon County, snow make-up days are a little trickier.

David Reinbold, administrative director of CCTI, explained that make up days are dependent on what the other schools set. Usually everyone is on the same page, but sometimes there are differences.

He added that CCTI is open on snowy days unless three of the five feeder schools call for either a delay or closure.

Why make up

snow days?

The need to make up the missed days is due to the Pennsylvania Public School Code of 1949.

According to the Department of Education website, the code states that all public kindergartens, elementary and secondary schools must be kept open and provide instruction for a minimum of 180 days before June 30.

"It is the responsibility of all school administrators to build into their school calendar a sufficient number of 'make up' days to avoid the necessity of extending the school year to make up the days missed due to an emergency closing or severe weather," section 25-2523 of the code states. "It is recommended that public schools determine the average number of days schools were closed, due to severe weather or emergencies, over the past three years to determine the number of make up days to build into the school calendar.

"Generally, it is recommended that at least five make-up days, not designated for any other purpose, be built into the school's calendar."

If schools cannot meet the required number of days, either because of weather closures or emergencies, a mandate waiver must be approved by the state or the school faces the possibility of losing money from the district's state subsidy.