OXFORD — Schools across the state are watching the calendar as snow days continue to add up during this long winter.

“We have six snow days built in. We’ve used five now,” SAD 17 Superintendent Rick Colpitts said. “If we use more than six, we then continue to add to the end of the school calendar.”

Students must have 175 days of instruction per year under state regulations, and teachers must work 181.

SAD 17 administrators are keeping an eye on the school calendar after schools shut down Thursday for the fifth time this winter. But they are not the only ones.

As of Thursday, the Lewiston School Department had used seven snow days.

The Auburn School Department, RSU 16 serving Mechanic Falls, Minot and Poland, and RSU 10 serving the Buckfield, Dixfield and Rumford areas each have taken five snow days.

SAD 44 in Bethel has used four and RSU 9 in Farmington has used three.

Despite this year’s cold and snowy winter, SAD 17 has not come close to the number of snow days in other years.

For example, in 2008, it used 11 snow days by late February. Possibilities for making up those days included holding classes during April vacation, turning a teacher workshop day to a student instructional day and using a Saturday.

The April vacation idea was scrubbed when a majority of teachers surveyed said they would not be available.

In March 2008, SAD 17 directors agreed to amend school policy and allow a two-hour delay, if needed, on stormy days. Two Saturdays were also designated as makeup days, but neither was needed in the end.

In 2012, school was canceled seven days, meaning students and staff attended school one day longer than originally scheduled. Because the district is so geographically large, conditions in only parts of the district can necessitate closing schools.

While the Maine Department of Education can approve a waiver to the mandated 175 days, as it did in 2009 when the Oxford Hills Middle School was closed due to a nearby warehouse fire, it does not happen very often, officials said.

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