Winter Extends School Year

By: Brian Johnson Email
By: Brian Johnson Email

After nine snow days for St. Johns, Thursday the school superintendent announced the district is adding a week to the academic calendar. June 11th is now the last day of classes. The change allows the district up to two more snow days.

"If we have more days, we'll be in the middle of the summer and we don't want to celebrate the fourth of July in school," said Dedrick Martin, the Superintendent of St. Johns.

After weeks of bad weather, there is added pressure on district leaders across Mid-Michigan to balance safety and summer.

Wednesday Saint Johns did not cancel school, then conditions worsened. No one was hurt but several busses were delayed--three got stuck and one couldn't discern a ditch from a driveway.

"They misjudged where the actual driveway was, so it wasn't an issue of a total loss of control," said Superintendent Martin, describing the large amounts of snow on and near the roads in some places.

"Had the snow been coming down as fast at 5:30 a.m. as it was by the time we got to 7:00 a.m., I would have made a different decision," said Martin who said he would have canceled school.

Some parents like the snow days, and year end extension.

"Whatever they've exceeded, they should have to go over in the summer time. What's a week-- for their safety," said Mindy Durbin, a St. Johns resident. "I have a young driver, that's starting to drive and it's scary. It's scary even for adults because a lot of people don't know how to drive in the weather."

Still others said, it's a typical Michigan winter.

"I don't think they should have canceled school," said Kathy Jameson, from Taylor.

Superintendent Martin said the district may have to extend the year even further if the bad conditions continue.

He said the district may also consider adding minutes to each day, but only if it's 20 minutes or more.

"If we can add instructional minutes that's meaningful, then that's something we will look at," said Martin.

He said delaying classes pushes back AP tests, graduation and staff training-- not to mention people's family vacations.

"Sometimes it's certainly the right call. Other times it's challenging because as you know with weather it can change in a heart beat," said Martin.

It's a challenge he wants to get right.

Saint Johns has taken two snow days in February for the past three years. If it doesn't this year--- school could end two days early.


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