Schools Consider Applying For Reprieve From Making Up Snow Days

Posted on: 8:47 pm, February 5, 2014, by

At least two school districts in Northwest Arkansas are considering petitioning the state for a waiver to keep them from having to make up all of the school days lost to winter weather.

Administrators from Bentonville and Fayetteville said they will consider alternatives before applying for a waiver, but that they are open to the option.

Local school districts called off classes Wednesday, marking the third lost school day this week and the 11th of the school year for many area schools. The districts have had to dig into Saturdays and holidays to make up the snow days, with Springdale administrators announcing earlier this week they would hold classes for two of the days that had been designated as part of Spring Break.

But a state provision allows school districts to apply for a waiver from the Arkansas Department of Education, which would allow administrators, under certain circumstances, to drop the snow days without having to make them up later.

Bentonville Supt. Michael Poore said because of the district’s 11 snow days, he is considering applying for the waiver. This winter has been an especially taxing time for the superintendent.

“We are done. We are over it. We would love to be back doing the things we really want to spend time on,” Poore said. “I don’t want to be a weather forecaster. I don’t want to be driving routes everyday trying to figure out whether we can go or not.

Fayetteville schools spokesman Alan Wilbourn said his school district is also considering applying for a waiver, but administrators there already applied for a waiver, in 2011, and had it denied by the state.

“Just because you ask for it doesn’t necessarily mean that is going to get granted,” Wilbourn said. “It’s usually for situations where those school districts in 2011 that had many more than 10 days, like 17 to 20 in rural areas where they missed a great number of days of school.”

To be approved for a waiver, school districts must show they have taken every chance to make up lost school days, including scheduling classes on Saturdays, Spring Break, holidays and adding days to the end of the school year calendar.

“If you haven’t done that, the state has traditionally not approved the waiver,” Poore said.

Officials from Bentonville and Fayetteville both say they will continue to examine all of their options to deal with the winter weather’s effect on local schools. Administrators in Springdale and Rogers have not said whether they would consider applying for a state waiver from making up snow days.

Students in Arkansas are required to attend school 178 days per year.

18 comments

  • Michael says:

    I just read an article on 4029tv.com, where Fayetteville is going to run “limited” bus service on Feb. 6; my question is why didn’t they run limited bus service today. Now, they are asking the state to forgive some of the amount of time they have missed because of so many snow days. It seems that all 4 districts have wasted so much time and are now having to search and look for ways to have this time forgiven. Talking about the dumbing down of our society; sure, we won’t teach anyone for weeks at a time and then ask for forgivness of the time we have missed. How silly.

  • Glenn says:

    Not surprised at all. I saw this coming. Not many thngs are worse than listening to a school superintendent crying.

  • Casey Bowers says:

    I appreciate them looking out for the kids and making sure buses and cars don’t have to get out on dangerous roads. School days can always be made up.

  • schoolsoutforever! says:

    I don’t get it, what’s so bad about continuing school in to the summer break? I mean some states are trying to make school a year long anyway. All of us have to work all year, we can’t take off for 2 or 3 months. So if the schools have to work an extra week then so be, you’ll have plenty of time to sit on your behind this summer.

    • LK WEBER says:

      Im glad that our school Superintendents are concerned about our childrens safety when weather is bad and as far as the “crying statement” its not right, they should be able to get the waiver because the weather is not a controlled environment. A lot of parents think all-year school would be great because they work and don’t want to be bothered with childcare and use the school basically as a babysitter. They tend to forget these little ones are only kids once and then they have to grow up and be an adult working and paying bills so, the summer break is good for the children to be able to have their childhood dreams and playtime for those few weeks during the good weather. They forget how great it was when they were kids all they are thinking about is themselves and whats best for them not the kids. I personally loved my summer break and if I had been forced to attend school all year long I would have hated it and may not have graduated and went on to college.

  • Rae says:

    Some of you obviously have no clue whatsoever about the public school system and how it works. Firstly, superintendents are on a twelve month contract so this schedule change won’t affect them at all. It’s the MUCH lower paid, and clearly from some of these comments very underappreciated teachers, as well as the poor students who are standardized tested until they are blue in the face and need a breather. In addition, schools will not have ALL days forgiven, but for those schools who have now missed 3 weeks, yeah, they may try to get a few forgiven. And also, year round school would only mean changing the arrangement of breaks making them shorter but more frequent and spaced out over time rather than two and half months of kids forgetting everything from the previous year–not adding instructional days, because it has been shown to increase student achievement rather than making their year even longer and even including Saturdays, which does them absolutely no good in the long run. They are exhausted. School today isn’t the same as it was whenever you were there. And teachers sitting on our behinds during the summer? HA! You have no idea how many teachers go out spending their own hard earned money on YOUR children to work on their classrooms so that kids can have a pleasant, welcoming learning environment, not to mention the professional development days we spend, often more than even required, to learn new ways to help your children, and of course doing lesson plans, etc. because those change every year. Many of us also work after hours, on weekends, and sacrifice our time at home with our own families to grade papers, do more lesson plans, and numerous other things to help your children. So before you go acting like teachers are just lazy bums except between 8:00-3:00 a few months out of the year, actually do a little research into what teachers do every single day to try to benefit your children. As long as the kids are taken care of, it makes being insulted about the job people like you don’t even know we do still completely worth it. Have a wonderful day.

    • Michael says:

      Hey Rae; nice try. My mother was a school teacher both in Texas and in Arkansas, she retired from teaching while working at Bonnie Grimes in Rogers. (By the way, we did receive snow while she was a teacher as well.) Year long school would be fine, if that is what they decide to do. However, running and hiding just because it has been snowing is really a poor excuse. And, it is getting really tiring when you look up and see, oh great, school is closed again. Hopefully, you got some good lesson plans done while you were on this extended break, because you’ll have to go back at least one day and try to salvage what you taught before the snow fell. There will always be kids who have not done their homework, even with 3 extra days to get it done.

      So Rae, more people are aware of what teachers do than you give them credit for. Time to get off your soap box and start teaching again, if that is the job you do. “As long as the kids are taken care of,” is a great line; lets teach them now to shelter in place when it starts to snow. Then, perhaps when they get older, they will understand that the next time they see snow, they won’t have to go to their own jobs. Because that is what they learned in school, snow = no work, hmmm.

      Really, look at it like this, Walmart was still open and people took their kids shopping with them. I have seen them with my own eyes, personally, I saw them. People also stopped at gas stations because they had actual work to do and they were able to get gas because people were there working. People went to see movies, they went out to eat and even the news crews were able get around and make their news reports. What I am saying is that life goes on, but our schools are making excuses as to why they do their job, while the world is going on around them.

      Children are precious, but don’t stick them in a bubble and be too overprotective of them. You want to stick them inside some globe and hide them from the world, when it is overcoming these hardships that helps them grow and build character. How did we ever become this great country if the people from our past ran and hid from the snow? How did we win our fight for independence? Wasn’t some of the war fought in snow and our soldiers ill equipped? Well, it’s snowing now, time to halt the Revolutionary war, it’s snowing.

      Why do we have people try to climb Mt. Everest? Isn’t there snow at the top? All kind of great events have happened while there was snow outside, but, don’t even think about opening the schools. That would be a shame, don’t ya think?

      • LK WEBER says:

        Michael you are a real “piece of work” So if a bus picks up your son like mine rides and they slide off the road and kill your child you gonna say OH WELL its just SNOW! You are dumb as a rock and must have dropped out of school because I guarantee all of these teachers and Superintendents that have your childs safety in mind would be the first ones you SUED because you lost your child due to SNOW!!! People like you are unreal. I know how teachers work and it doesn’t end with the last bell of the day nor the summer time. Many go to school for refresher or extended degrees, others work during the Summer, and some Mothers actually may get to stay home and have time with their own children in place of yours during those few precious weeks. YOU ARE NOT A VERY NICE PERSON in my opinion!

  • mike says:

    I remember when schools Had snow days in there schedule
    Hillary Clinton put a stop to that.

  • Rae says:

    Hello Michael. Wonderful for you that your mother was a teacher. So were both of my parents as well. But as I said, teaching back then is night and day from what it is now, before NCLB, Common Core, high stakes tests, blah blah blah. Ask any teacher you know who’s been in the profession for more than twenty years and they’ll tell you it’s nowhere close to the same. And as far as my being on a soapbox, if that’s what you’d like to call it be my guest, but when someone says “you’ll have plenty of time to sit on your behind this summer,” or that schools are “dumbing down society,” that’s pretty insulting to the people on the receiving end, whether intended or not, considering just how hard most of us work.

    As for how we make it up or why we missed, I honestly don’t care. It makes absolutely no difference to me. That wasn’t the point. But since you want to go there, at least have an argument that is relevant to the issue. Walmart employees having to work and parents taking their kids? People went to get gas? They went to movies? That’s wonderful! The key difference in every case you listed is that the parents who took their kids were in control and used their own judgement for their own child–not send them off in the hands of someone else behind the wheel of a big bus that doesn’t have seat belts when there is still ice on many of the roads. Did you see the news from NC I believe it was where a school bus full of kids tipped over sideways in a suburban neighborhood due to ice in the roads? I don’t know about you, but if it were my children I would have been pretty furious that they didn’t call off school that day. And that road didn’t look much worse than many of the roads I’ve seen around here lately.

    Schools are legally responsible for those children and act in loco parentis when they are in their care. So if a child is harmed on a school’s watch due to poor judgement, the school could have themselves a lawsuit. And people must also take into account that some schools have a majority of bus routes on back, country roads or side streets with neighborhoods that never once saw a grater or any other sort of snow treatment at all. Not all kids live right in the middle of big towns like Fayetteville where it’s all nice and dry.

    And again, most of those days will be made up, because many schools are going on Saturdays, giving up holidays, and now probably having no spring break. Plus going well into June. Did you know that to qualify for a waiver you have to take all of those steps first? And some rural schools are about a week ahead of the big four districts having missed 15-16 days at this point. Trust me, plenty of it is getting paid back. And believe me, I’m as sick of these days as you are. I enjoy going to work and I’d much rather be there than stuck in my house by myself all day getting irritated at people’s thoughtless remarks. As annoying as it can be for another snow day, I would still be glad as a parent that a school erred on the side of caution rather than avoid a bit of an inconvenience. Schools that have been damaged by tornados, fires, etc–should those places have been required to make up all of those missed days due to an act of nature that was out of their control? Snow of course is thankfully a much smaller issue; however teachers and students have no say so in whether or not they call a snow day, and we certainly have no control over the weather, so when it throws the entire rest of the school year into an upheaval it’s at least nice to know that there is the option to make it a little less extreme, should it even get approved. As I said before, this stuff doesn’t affect the superintendents who make the call. They are on a 12 month contract and will work either way. It does, however, affect the teachers and students who had no say-so in the matter. And the “end of course” standardized tests are in March/April, and any teacher will tell you that after kids are finished with those tests, keeping them focused can be an extreme challenge, especially when they would have an extra two months to go.

    And I’m not even going bother to argue your hyperbolic comparisons of attending a K-12 public school to the Revolutionary War or climbing Mount Everest. That’s hilarious. So same goes back to you there–nice try. Did give me a good chuckle, though. I needed that today. :)

  • Michael says:

    Rae, most of your arguments don’t hold much water if at all. You say that teaching is not the same as it was back when we were school or our parents were teaching. But, you said last time that, they grade papers, make lesson plans and prepare on their own; sounds like when I was in school or when my mother was still teaching.

    Next you point out that you would not send your kids off in the school bus because you are not driving. If that is the case, why does the school district have buses at all? You are correct in saying that school buses do not have seat belts, and that is your argument for not using them. And, if that is your concern then why would you send them on a bus at all? I mean, in the rain they can hydroplane, in a wind storm they can be blown over, in the sand or mud they can get stuck. So, why would any parent risk using a bus? Thank goodness you brought up that fact.

    Oh, I didn’t realize that the schools would be responsible while our kids are attending. Doesn’t that also apply to when our kids have a friend over? Aren’t we also responsible for them while they are visiting? That point was sort of unclear.

    Of course, had we actually had a tornado or a fire, I’m not sure but perhaps, there may be a reason for not having school. However, that was quite a leap to go from snow to a tornado or fire. Again, great logic.

    And of course, you can’t compare now to then. Now, we can’t have the schools open because of snow. And, who knows what kind of country we would live in had Washington and his troops not endured the cold weather and fought for and won our independence. Seems that we can’t do that now. Snow is some great force of nature that no one has ever seen or had to deal with before; good thing there is global warming. (it’s kind of funny, we have typically 4 episodes of “climate change” a year; they are called seasons.)

    I am extremely glad that I could brighten your day with facts and give you a good laugh. They say that laughter is the best medicine. So go on and enjoy your now brightened day and watch out for those big, scary, yellow buses out on the roads today.

  • Rae says:

    Oh, Michael… this has clearly been a waste of my time. One more response before I go and do something more worthwhile with my day… Let me be clear: Yes. The grading papers, lesson plans, etc. still happen same as before. But now that’s added to all kinds of other paperwork, evaluations, standardized test prep, more required professional development, etc. Teachers before this day and age were allowed to do their jobs as they saw fit and not have a ton of extra nit-picky details required by the government hanging over their heads. And also to be clear, the work that we teachers do would never have been brought up at all if some of your rude comments had not been made in the first place. What was originally said by yourself and another person or two was, and I quote, that schools are “dumbing down society” and teachers “sit on their behinds all summer.” That is what set me off–you’re rude.

    As for school busses, once again, you make irrelevant points and did not clearly read what I said. I never said I wouldn’t send my kids off in a school bus. Not once. Quit putting words in my mouth to try and save your point. I did say, however, that I would not feel comfortable sending them off in a bus on ICY ROADS. Get the difference? And why do schools have busses at all? You’re just grasping at straws here. Seriously? Are all children living with parents who work 8:00-3:00 shifts and can drive them to school every day? Not every kid has that option. And when attending school is indeed required by law, busses have to be provided for those who need them. However, in that same regard schools also need to be cautious on determining when busses aren’t a safe option, since, you know, it is the law for kids to be there, not parent choice. And the busses aren’t the only thing schools take into consideration in canceling–it’s also how safe they feel it would be for the parents who are forced to drive their kids to school in their cars that are equipped with seat belts. And no, Michael, busses don’t have those seat belts, but that was not an argument against bus use in general, just during poor driving conditions, which you already knew. There are some practical points as to why they don’t have them, such as very young students on a full bus who may need to evacuate quickly and might have trouble getting out of their seat belt. Is it perfect system? No. But until someone comes up with a better solution we have to do the best we can with what’s there. Some parents don’t have any other option. Yes busses can hydroplane, yes they could get stuck, yes a wind storm could blow them over, as all of that could for any motor vehicle. A meteor could also fall onto one at any point. But how many times do we hear news reports on those type of accidents compared to accidents on ice? Especially in the South where people aren’t used to it. It’s just statistics, plain and simple. You have to weigh risk vs. reward, and when accidents on ice are so common and busses are so large and yes, without seat belts, it’s just not worth it to risk it. Accidents could of course happen at any time, but on icy roads it’s just common sense to stay off when you know the risk could be that big.

    And on to your next irrelevant point–when kids go stay at other kids’ houses, are they required by law to do so or does the parent have a say in the matter? And are there hundreds of kids at said house at one time for you to be responsible for, or maybe just a handful? Sure you’re responsible when you have kids over, but that parent didn’t HAVE to let them go as they are required to do with school. So yes, schools take extra precautions to ensure that they make all possible efforts to keep kids safe since they’re required to be there. That’s what we’re paid to do. It’s part of our contract.

    And once again to another point you clearly didn’t get–the only comparison I made to tornadoes or fires with snow storms is that they are events that are OUT OF OUR CONTROL, and potentially cause many missed days of school. I explicitly stated originally that those were “of course more severe,” which you obviously conveniently chose to ignore, but my point is that when it is a force of nature out of our control that forces school to cancel, that fact should be taken into account. Is it our fault it snowed? Not last time I checked.

    And I still just don’t get where Washington’s army in the Revolutionary War has any legitimate comparison to a bunch of kids between 5 and 18 who miss some school for snow… You need to give that one up. I’m happy for you that you’re up on your American History facts, but it only works to your advantage when it has anything to do with the argument. Revolutionary War/public school attendance… not the same thing. Whenever today’s grade school students begin enlisting to fight for our freedom in the snow you and I can continue this conversation and I’ll gladly admit you were right. But until then, while our kids go to work on math and literacy when American soldiers were fighting for the freedom of this country… yeah, it’s not the same thing.

    And climate change, seriously? Quit digging for another argument. And so, with that, I now plan to go do something more worthwhile with my day. Thanks for the debate. It’s been a pleasure.

  • Jessie says:

    Wow. How interesting to read such disparaging remarks towards teachers. Making up snow days can become exhausting and useless in the course of teaching and learning. Several studies have been done that show no correlation between making up snow days and raising test scores. There are studies that show student and teacher burnout when this occurs that actually lowers test scores. As a teacher, I’d like to point out that schools are now giant test preparation facilities. Our whole year revolves around preparing these kids for testing. If your school gets low test scores you get punished. If your scores stay high or rise, you get rewarded. Sounds fair right? Not quite. We have to test many, many special education students and english as a second language students. Their scores are combined with all students. If you teach in a school with a large special ed population or a large ESL population, you’re screwed. I wish just one of you naysayers would come in and work one little week as a teacher in todays classrooms. You would be begging for a summer break after that week. Teachers nowdays serve as nurse, mother, mentor, food provider, clothing providers, dental services,, mental health services, counseling, weekend food providers, disciplinarians and oh yeah….teachers. Please, come volunteer and see what the real world of teaching looks like. We wear tennis shoes everyday of the week for a reason.

    • LK WEBER says:

      Essie thank you for your reply I thought it was marvelous. They could not pay me enough to be a teacher in this Generation where you get no respect and cannot properly correct they bad eggs. Needless to say having a classroom full of students that may include up to 3 or more different languages that kids bring from homes that do not speak English. My hats off to all teachers and you all deserve a big HOORAH!

  • Michael2 says:

    Michael has no clue. Perhaps you should substitute a day in June and then decide how suitable of an educational atmosphere is at that time before “educating” us towards what works within our field of expertise andhow lazy and dare I say easy the educational system is. We live it Michael 1. We LIVE it.

  • JR Gibbs says:

    Thank you teachers. By the way, if someone has a beef about weather cancelations you need to address the superintendent and school board. Not teachers. Teachers and students don’t have a thing to do with those calls.

  • Michael says:

    You are correct, this has been a complete waste of time. You can’t or won’t understand the arguments that have been presented. Then you take your points, which have been rebutted then try to twist them again.

    I made the point that parents are taking their kids to Walmart with them to go shopping and you turn around and say that you would not trust the bus driver to get them to school safely. Way to build confidence with the bus drivers… Thank you all of you bus drivers, who daily transport our kids to and from school, when they are open.

    You also brought up fire and tornadoes; well of course when a natural disaster occurs, that is an extenuating circumstance that would be dealt with differently than snow/ice. However, every time I drove up and down Dixieland Drive, the school building was still there and waiting for students.

    Now, we can play this game about, “you come teach a class and see.” There is your childish game being played. I know about the life of a teacher. I know about the work that a teacher does. I also know that come each school year, my family and others like us, wind up buying pens and scissors and staples for the teacher, each teacher that our kids have. Those are on the list that our kids get from their teachers. So fine, let’s play this game now, I’ll do your job and you can come do mine. Does that make sense or make you happy? Every thing is about standardized tests, guess what? We are not standardized people; we have differences. Differences in learning, differences in this or that, that makes us unique. But, I have no clue about grading papers or making lesson plans and such like that; you said so, so it has to be true.

    See, I would have responded sooner but I was at work. Just like the rest of the world. I was doing my job. I apologize that you don’t understand the historical reference that I was making when I brought up the point of the Revolutionary way. Maybe that was a little over the top, I’ll try to connect the dots for you.

    People still have lives to live while it is snowing or icy out. We have endured hard times and good times. This was a reference to one of the hard times, that as Americans, we have had to deal with. It was a time, when people had to deal with difficult conditions and circumstances. Just like when people attempt to climb Mt.Everest, there is snow at the top and yet people still try to climb up to the top. Even though that means they have to endure cold, harsh and icy conditions. And yet, they still try to get to the top. But, don’t even think about operating a school in such conditions.

    There are good teachers, I know a few. But, the world does not stop turning, life goes on even when there is snow and ice. Perhaps, put a little faith in your bus driver and let the schools do their job. This would have been a good time, at least since Wednesday; let the parents take some of the responsibility. Take the time and drive them to school if you can or drive them to the bus stop at least.

    I am not going to post any more topics until the next time we shut down for a week. I am petitioning, the school board to make changes. They said they are going to run “limited bus service,” well I made that suggestion the last time we were shut down for a week. I am thankful that someone at least listened.

    So, Thanks all of your for your ears and your time. But, take a second and look back at what has gone on recently. We could deal with the snow back then but we can not seem to deal with it now. Good night everyone and God bless.

  • Cathy says:

    Michael, you are an idiot. Walk a mile in their shoes before you criticize them. It doesn’t matter that your mom was a teacher – you were not so you have no personal experience to base your comments on. It is so easy to give an opinion on something you yourself haven’t experienced but it doesn’t mean you know what you are talking about! For all the teachers out there – thank you for teaching our children!

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