Even if the state Legislature votes to forgive up to five missed school days because of the recent snowstorms, we hope area schools will schedule at least three makeup days between now and the end of the school year. Even if rescheduling missed days is a pain, school districts shouldn’t be cavalier about lopping days off the minimum 180-day school year.
York County districts got hit with a double-whammy this winter. First, most schools closed for a day or two during a snowstorm in late January and then all local districts missed another three days during last week’s heavier storm.
Clover has four days to make up; Fort Mill has three and Rock Hill has five. State law requires districts to schedule at least three makeup days in the school year, and Fort Mill has three remaining makeup days while Rock Hill has none.
After the first snowstorm, the S.C. House unanimously passed a bill that would give school districts the option of forgiving up to five missed school days. The Senate hasn’t taken up the measure yet, but Gov. Nikki Haley said she would sign the bill if it’s passed, saying she supports letting school districts make their own decisions.
We understand the desire to ease pressure on school districts with few options left in the remaining school calendar. Makeup days could cut into family plans for spring vacation or other holidays.
And when holiday plans conflict with school, some parents simply allow their kids to skip the makeup day. Fort Mill purposely didn’t schedule a makeup day for Monday – Presidents Day – because it was assumed that many families already had plans for the three-day weekend.
Again, though, students should be in school for as many of the allotted 180 days as possible. And with advanced planning, schools should be able to use holidays or teacher work days to replace days missed because of weather.
Here’s another alternative: Have children attend school on selected makeup days in the fall, before the threat of snow and ice arrives, and bank those days ahead of time.
Then, if school has to be canceled because of a blizzard, districts already would have made up the lost days. If the winter is snow-free and no school days are lost, the extra days attended in the fall can be taken off the end of the school year.
What kid would object to starting summer vacation three days early?
We realize that bad weather can be unpredictable and worse some years than others. But why even mandate a minimum of 180 days of school a year if the Legislature is certain to excuse days lost because of weather?
South Carolina students probably don’t attend school enough as it is. We don’t need to shorten the school year even more by giving districts a “get out of jail free” card on lost days.