Snow days, delays… it’s a craze!


Katharina Spöth, Writer

Less than three months left for students at BFA until we can finally fully enter our well-deserved summer break of 2019!

Students are counting down the days but due to some tough snow days, the countdown wasn’t counting down all the time…

The question that appears: how can we get out of school the earliest and is there a way to avoid those annoying make-up days?

Dr. Kevin Dirth started working for Maple Run Unified School District in 2014 and currently holds the position of the Superintendent. An important and not highly appreciated  part of this job is the privilege and responsibility to make decisions about weather related school cancellations.

“It’s the Superintendent’s responsibility in any school district to monitor snow and make decisions around snow days, which is probably one of the worst jobs we have. Nobody likes it. You’re up early in the morning, we’re all up at around 4 a.m. or so, usually the night before you know something is going to happen,” Dirth said.

To base his decisions on some valid sources of data, he always includes several resources and stays in contact with Superintendents from all over Franklin County and other people monitoring and predicting weather conditions.

“The National Weather Service monitors for us and keeps us informed through emails, what’s happening, showing us the radar. When we’re up in the morning we talk to the facilities people in the town, who are managing and watching the roads and talk to the bus company who has got to put the buses on the roads. So we’re doing all of this monitoring in the morning about what we should do, given the fact that safety is so important,” Dirth said.

His decisions affect lots of people therefore struggles can easily occur and decisions have to be made carefully and thoughtfully.

“It’s sometimes tough decisions because even with all the data you get from the weather service and everything else, every area is just a little bit different and from there you have to make the decision what you think is best and what is safest,” Dirth said.

He knows the mixed feelings of snow days well, but he doesn’t see a reasonable alternative in other school’s new concept. One example is Peru Central School in NY, which took away some in-service days instead of having to make up all cancelled school at the end of the year.

“I haven’t heard [that concept] but we’re not going to do that because in-service days are there for staff to learn certain things. So if you take away those in-service days, on those days we can not do the work that needs to be done with our teachers and our staff: learning and getting professional development. That’s not the idea, we feel it’s important to keep those days. We have snow days actually built into the calendar, they are already in there so people don’t realize or ignore them, but they are there because we live in northern Vermont; you’re going to have snow days and those have to be made up,” Dirth said.

Peter Jones, BFA´s librarian, thinks that rethinking the current make-up day system would be “a good idea for the students”.

He highly supports the idea of building days into the calendar, though in his opinion, those should be distributed over the whole year instead of adding them to the end.  

“There should be days built into the year so that when you have four or five snow days you are not making up four or five school days at the end. They do have that on the calendar, yes, but the days go past. Graduation is on Saturday and then we can have school days past there for the undergrads. Staff have a contractional number of days to be here so if we took April 15 for example and did it a school day, staff still would have that one day to make up after. But at least it would get the students out earlier. The in-service day would be put to the end of the year, it wouldn’t go away,” Jones said.

Also Sophie Thompson (‘21) who currently attends BFA supports this different way of handling make-up days.

“I think it’s a good idea. I don’t think we should take too many [in-service days] but maybe take one and then just add it to the end of the year especially so, like, the students can just leave. Once in a while I enjoy [snow days] but I’m kind of annoyed by them most of the time because I know I just have to come back here in June when it’s warm and the building isn’t air conditioned,” Thompson said.

Jones further proposes yet another possibility on how to make up snow days as comfortably as possible for students.

“In my humble little opinion, April break should be the week and then the following week put on a few days and then for every snow day take one off. So that April break is still five days but it could be eight days if there is no snow days,” Jones said.

Yes, that make-up days and boiling in classrooms while desperately waiting for summer break to start can be annoying, but in the end being safe is the main priority!