For the second time this winter, as snow and ice melt across York, Chester and Lancaster counties, schools, including Fort Mill's, are faced with the aftermath of snow days – instructional time that needs to be made up.
All local public schools missed three days of classes this week because of the winter storm, bringing the total days missed this year up to five for most districts. Clover has four days to make up, and Fort Mill has three.
South Carolina law requires districts to schedule at least three makeup days in their yearly calendars in case inclement weather prevents schools from opening, but some districts, like Fort Mill, have built in more.
Fort Mill had scheduled a makeup day – from the January snowstorm – for Friday, but had to cancel classes again when icy roads remained from this week’s storm.
On the Fort Mill Times Facebook page, Fort Mill School Board Chairman Patrick White explained that the district has three weather-related makeup days remaining – one each in March, May and June – and that the authority to determine which days are used resides with Superintendent Chuck Epps.
Earlier in the week, Epps and the district announced that Monday would not be used as a makeup day even if schools closed this week so families could plan for the long weekend.
Many districts, including Fort Mill, are now waiting to see what the legislature will do. Last week, the S.C. House unanimously passed a bill that would give school districts the option of “forgiving” up to five missed school days because of weather.
But the Senate didn’t get to discuss that bill last week, and it didn’t meet this week because of bad weather. Senate President Pro Tem John Courson, R-Columbia, said senators will discuss it next week.
Gov. Nikki Haley, who would have to sign the bill for it to become law, supports statewide bills that let school districts make their own decisions, spokesman Doug Mayer said.
Although he’s never voted to “forgive” missed days before, Rock Hill school board chairman Jim Vining said, he probably would this year if the legislature gives the school board that authority.
“In light of the fact we don’t have any snow days left,” Vining said, “I expect us to forgive some of those days, assuming it passes.”
Spokespersons for several area districts this week said a decision about makeup days wouldn’t come for another week or two, when school boards and administrators can meet to discuss their options.
“We have not made any kind of decision or recommendation as of yet,” said Clover school board chairman Mack McCarter.
But scheduling makeup days can be complicated, Vining said, and most of the time they are poorly attended by students.
“You can put it on the calendar, but people plan on doing (other) things,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed.