PARIS — It’s not a record, but eight snow days as of Monday’s storm may become problematic if the weather continues to cancel classes in the Oxford Hills School District.

Students have to attend school 175 days in Maine. That’s the law

“We have had seven snow days so far, School Superintendent Rick Colpitts said on March 1, three days before classes were canceled again when snow swept through the area on March 4. “Our one hour extension of our early release Wednesday will make up three of these.”

According to the DOE. acceptable efforts to reschedule classes include the following:

  • rescheduling or shortening scheduled vacation
  • postponing the scheduled school closing date
  • conducting classes on weekends.

In addition, districts sometimes choose to convert a scheduled teacher in-service day to a student instructional day.

School districts may also schedule a one-hour extension of the school day for up to 25 days in a school year, which is what the Oxford Hills School District has done. Five, one-hour extensions are counted as an additional school day, according to the Department of Education.

School boards may request in writing that the Commissioner of Education waive the minimum school year requirements but the Commissioner is clear that waivers will only be granted after school officials have exhausted all “reasonable avenues” for making up lost school days, and he will do so only in “extraordinary” circumstances.

This year, the Commissioner has added another option to make up lost school time – a pilot program for the 2019-2020 year called Anytime-Anywhere learning days. It would allow school districts to count the option as one of the required 175 instructional days.

Districts that are interested in participating in the pilot program must complete a short application and confirm the following:

  • access and equity for all students in implementation of the day;
  • provision of FAPE (free, appropriate public education) for students with disabilities;
  • provision of free breakfast and lunch for qualifying students;
  • school board approval, and staff, family and community support;
  • honoring of all other existing legal requirements, including regional school calendar requirements under 20-A M.R.S. 4801 2-A

While the opportunity would help reduce the multiple lost school days, Colpitts told the Advertiser Democrat that he doubts the district will apply for the pilot this year.

“There are a number of checklist items we would have to address before our application could be reasonably considered,” he said.

No record yet

While this winter season may seem to some to be an out of the ordinary, it really isn’t. In recent years, the district has had as many as 12 lost school days.

Last year, for example, by March 29, the district had experienced nine “snow days.“

To reduce the impact to the school calendar, the Board of Directors unanimously approved the superintendent’s recommendation to reschedule a teachers workshop to the day after the last day of student classes in June to allow classes from kindergarten through grades 12 to attend class on an otherwise “no classes” day.

The board also approved requesting the Commissioner of Education’s permission to extend the regular school day by one hour for two weeks beginning April 23 and running through May 4.

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