By Doug Ireland
---- — With another winter storm bearing down today, some school officials were a little anxious yesterday at the prospect of having to cancel classes again.
Most Southern New Hampshire school districts already have had three snow days and it’s only mid-February. That means pushing back the last day of school in June.
While some were a little anxious, waiting until this morning to make the cancellation call, they weren’t overly concerned about the last day being delayed.
Last year, the final day in many districts was bumped from June 13 to June 20
“It’s New England,” Derry assistant superintendent MaryAnn Connors-Krikorian said. “We have to deal with this winter weather.”
If it means school must be canceled to keep students and staff safe, then that’s what will happen, she said.
“Every day we miss, we just push it back a day,” Connors-Krikorian said. “Student safety is always our top priority.”
When the school year started, Derry’s last day of school was June 12. After snow days, it’s now June 17. If officials cancel classes today, the last day would be June 18.
Derry led local districts last year with seven snow days. Most other districts had six.
“We hope to have less this year,” Connors-Krikorian said.
New Hampshire law requires districts to have 180 school days per year, or the equivalent number of hours. Local superintendents said their districts usually have about five missed days a year.
Londonderry, which also had three snow days, would move the final day to June 18 as well if classes were canceled today, Superintendent Nathan Greenberg said.
Before today, the final days were June 16 in Windham and at Pinkerton Academy. Sanborn Regional School District students are looking at June 19.
Salem is now set to end classes June 17, Superintendent Michael Delahanty said.
The Salem School Board has decided to have students attend school on two teacher workshop days, March 25 and 25, to minimize the impact on the district’s schedule, he said.
When a storm last week dumped nearly a foot of snow, most superintendents didn’t hesitate to cancel school the afternoon before.
That didn’t happen yesterday with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine, forecasting anywhere from 5 to 11 inches of snow in Southern New Hampshire between this morning and early tomorrow.
Safety pre-empts schedules, local superintendents said.
“I don’t want the number of school days to have an impact on my decision on a snowy day,” said Brian Blake, superintendent of the Sanborn Regional School District.
Some schools, including Pinkerton and Hampstead, can avoid using a snow day by sending students home with “blizzard bags,” assignments they complete when school is not in session.
At least 80 percent of students must participate to avoid having to make up a day at year’s end. During the storm last week, 93 percent of Hampstead students participated.