Monmouth County School District Plans Saturday School to Make Up Snow Days
A Monmouth County school district has some parents worried after they issued a memo that if any more school days are missed this year because of snow, they will be made up on Saturdays.
Wall Township Interim Superintendent Stephanie Bilenker issued a letter to parents and staff advising them that the next three school days canceled because of weather would be made up on Saturdays. It states:
In the event that the district needs to close due to future inclement weather conditions, the district will amend the calendar as follows:
1st Snow Day – Saturday, March 22, 2014
2nd Snow Day – Saturday, April 5, 2014
3rd Snow Day – Saturday, April 26, 2014
4th Snow Day – Monday, April 14, 2014
5th Snow Day – Tuesday, April 15, 2014
A New Jersey statute (N.J.S.A. 18A:7F-9) requires that schools be open for 180 days in order to receive state aid: "No State aid shall be paid to any district which has not provided public school facilities for at least 180 days during the preceding school year, but the commissioner, for good cause shown, may remit the penalty."
Most school calendars build three extra days into the year to prepare for inclement weather, but with the amount of snow we've had this year, a lot of area districts have met that limit.
The idea of having school on Saturdays has some parents understandably upset. Eileen*, one of my favorite local moms, and the blogger behind Autism with a Side of Fries, received the letter, and said she's livid and unsure of what to do if another snow storm forces the Saturday make-up day.
Her son George attends school in Wall Township. George has autism and is very dependent on routine.
She says of the potential change in schedule, " It won't matter if I say, 'you don't have to go.' The mere fact that the school will be open on a Saturday is wrong in his world. To miss school is wrong. He cries when he misses [school] when he's sick. So combine missing school on purpose with school on a Saturday...It's a nightmare. I'm praying like heck this won't happen.'
She says other moms in the district are also concerned that the change will negatively affect the students.
The hope is that there won't be anymore canceled days, and this will become a non-issue. It seems likely though that many parents would keep their child home instead of sending them into school on a Saturday. Would it honestly benefit the students' learning, or would it a waste of a day?
I remember being a kid, and going to school when there was a delayed opening and a handful of kids didn't come to school was a joke. The teachers didn't want to waste time teaching the same lesson twice or trying to cram it into a shorter amount of time, so we wound up doing busy work instead.
It would be frustrating to take the days away from the Spring Break, but I think the kids need that two-day weekend to decompress.
Would you want an extra day added to your work week? I doubt it. Now imagine being a 6-, 8, or 12-year old kid and facing the same thing.
*Eileen's full name has not been provided to protect her privacy.