Schools seeing more closings and delays due to weather

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Around 400 schools were either closed or delayed around the region Wednesday due to the winter weather. Some officials say this winter's frequent closings and delays are the worst they've seen in decades.

While students get a day off, snow days add up and they need to be made up to get students to the required 175 days of classes.

"It's a big decision," said Susette Bollard, superintendent of the Central Vermont Supervisory Union. She says they've had five school closings and four late starts already this year, with another delay Wednesday. She says the district tries its best to get students to school and knows the impact no school can have on families. "Closing a school is a huge burden on some families. It's their hottest and best meals of the day for some children in poverty. Some of our families have difficulties with daycare."

We spoke with many school districts that agree that it has been an active winter in terms of school closings. About one-third of them said they've already had more snow days than usual, while others say it's been about normal.

"Currently, unless we do something differently, we would be into the last week of June," said Elaine Arbour, superintendent of the Rivendell Interstate School District, with includes schools in New Hampshire and Vermont. She says wild winter weather has caused their schools to close six times this year. She's put out a survey asking teachers and families to choose the best options for making up days missed. "A lot of good ideas have come in in addition to the options that I have provided."

Some of those options include having classes on Saturdays, cutting February or April vacation short, and turning a teacher workshop day into a school day.

Arbour says she is sifting through the responses and presenting them to the school board. "It's been a difficult year," she said.

Back in Central Vermont, Bollard says her district's last day is creeping closer to the end of June as well. She's concerned classes could interrupt professional development opportunities for teachers available the last week of June. "The possibility of having school open when those professional development opportunities are available are problematic," she said.

Bollard says she may try to rework her cancellation method next year to add a day of school somewhere else in the year so students don't have to stay in class longer when the warmer weather returns.