BETHEL — If the commissioner of the Maine Department of Education approves the plan, students in School Administrative District 44 will go to school for an extra hour for 25 days.

The extended school day is one option for school districts to make up snow days without to extending the school year into late June, Superintendent David Murphy told the school board Monday.

Five one-hour extensions would be counted as one additional school day.

The board authorized Murphy to submit a proposal to the commissioner of the Maine Department of Education to extend the length of the school day by one hour to make up five snow days, the maximum number allowed under the state rule.

“Last year, we did not have any snow days prior to February vacation,” Murphy told the board. “This year, we’ve had nine.”

He said that in the past, the district has often needed to use additional snow days in March and April.


The district builds five snow days into the school calendar each year, with more days added to the end of the school year, unless they can be made up by other means.

“Right now, the last day for us is Monday, June 26,” Murphy said. “I think that’s the latest I can ever remember it being.”

Murphy said directors had three choices:

• Allow the proposal to extend the school day to be submitted to the Department of Education, but wait until the March board meeting to decide whether or not to incorporate the extended days into the calendar;

• Approve putting the extended-day schedule into effect as soon as it is approved by the state; or

• Vote against making the request to the state and instead extend the school year in June.


“One of the benefits of doing it sooner, rather than later, is that you can do it during mud season, when you don’t have a lot of sports things going on,” Murphy said.

Waiting to schedule the extended school days in the spring would mean students who play spring sports would lose additional instructional time on game days.

He also suggested using March 17, previously scheduled as a teacher workshop day, as a regular instructional day to make up one snow day.

“Even if we do these things tonight, it’s very possible that we could still be looking at a late June date, depending on how the weather goes for the rest of the year,” Murphy said.

Director Marcel Polak of Woodstock asked how the extra hour of instructional time would be added to the schedule.

Murphy said if the proposal is approved, administrators would determine how the additional hour would be used. For example, he said, at the high school, students might make up one class each day on a rotating basis.


“Obviously it would have to be focused academic time,” he said.

Polak wondered whether it would be more productive to extend the school day, or to add more days to the end of the school year.

Murphy said extending the school year even further is challenging because “you have people who have already made plans. You have summer camps that are beginning. And you also run into the potential of hot weather.”

Polak asked about making up school days on Saturdays.

“As a parent, in my personal opinion, Saturday is not an option,” Bethel director Amy Forbes DeVivo said. “I fully support the one-hour extension of the day, and I believe that there would be more education learned now, during mud season, than during that last week of June.”

The board voted unanimously to submit a proposal to the Department of Education for extending the school day by one hour per day for 25 days to make up five snow days, to allow its implementation as soon as feasible after approval is received, and to schedule March 17 as a regular instructional day.

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