Snow Days Put Spring Break on Ice In Brooke County

The spring break planned for Brooke County Schools has been reduced to the Friday before Easter weekend to make up for snow days.

Superintendent Toni Paesano Shute said students were to be off on March 29 and April 2-4, but those days will be used to make up for the canceled school days. With no more makeup days left in the school calendar, any future cancellations will have to be made up by extending the school year beyond its current May 24 end date, she said.

Rob Robinson, facilities director, said the only alternative to extending the school year offered by the state is to add 30 minutes to school days to make up for the lost instructional time. Shute said that would create problems because it would affect bus routes and extracurricular activities.

She said at least one year state school officials waived some lost instructional time when students were provided “snow packs” containing assignments to be done on days when cancellation was expected. But she said that’s no longer the case.

Shute said many teachers have taken advantage of the computer tablets provided to some pupils this year by downloading onto them assignments for them to do at home. But the work doesn’t qualify for a waiver for lost school days, she said.

The issue arose after Daniell Diserio, a parent, asked if the apparent difficulty of state road crews in clearing secondary roads could qualify school districts for such a waiver. Shute said she and other superintendents could suggest the move at an upcoming state conference in Charleston, but she’s not optimistic that it will be approved.

For many years, West Virginia school districts were required to make up for canceled school days, but the school year couldn’t be extended beyond June 8. In more recent years, however, state legislators have mandated all instructional time lost due to cancellations and delays be made up, even if it means extending the school year beyond that date.

That resulted in the school year for Brooke County and other districts ending in mid-June in 2015.

In other business, Robinson said some residents have asked why chemical storage cabinets made by Eagle Manufacturing of Wellsburg weren’t ordered for the new middle school’s science labs. He said the cabinets were purchased by contractors involved with the school’s construction, not the board itself, from a vendor who submitted the lowest bid.

“We have a great relationship with Eagle. It was just through part of the bid process that we didn’t receive those items from them,” Robinson said.