GREENFIELD — Southern Hancock students are kicking back for the start of a welcome two-week spring break next week. The county’s other three school districts were originally scheduled to do the same, but students will instead be back in class come Monday morning.
The snowiest winter on record resulted in multiple delays and canceled school days over the past two-plus months, and three of the county’s four public school districts have opted to use the first week of spring break to catch up on missed work.
Southern Hancock officials tried that formula last year but said they had numerous complaints from families that planned spring vacations without taking into account the potential for make-up days to be held the first week.
So this year, the district opted to preserve the two-week spring breaking and instead add makeup days to the end of the school year.
That will push New Palestine High School’s graduation to June 6, a week later than normal, the district announced this week.
Eastern Hancock Elementary Principal Amanda Pyle said district staff made sure it was clear to families that the first week of spring break would be used for snow make-up days if winter weather played havoc with attendance.
They plan to use the coming week as normal school days and have even scheduled standardized testing for Tuesday and Wednesday.
Pyle isn’t worried about students missing out.
“Last year, we were here Monday and Tuesday of spring break, and attendance was really good at 94 percent,” Pyle said. “Students will be here, and there will be learning going on with our regular curriculum.”
Mt. Vernon students will take the I-READ3 test, which measures third-graders’ reading ability, early next week as well.
McCordsville Elementary School third-grade teacher Dan Keeler said parents have become accustomed to planning around the possibility of snow days.
“We think parents are starting to plan their long spring break trips toward the second week of break rather than the first,” he said.
Keeler said he has no problem with making up snow days now rather than at the end of the year because the school’s balanced calendar still allows for time off.
“With us making them up now, we still get a week and a day for break,” Keeler said. “If we still got our two weeks, that could cut into the end of the year and may take away from vital summer time.”
That is time he said some teachers use to get a second job to help support their families.
Having to make up the lost school days during the first week of spring break comes as no surprise to Greenfield-Central parent Brandy Sticka.
G-C students will be expected to be in class Monday through Thursday.
“The school has been great about letting us know,” Sticka said.
While Sticka’s daughter, a 17-year-old senior, is disappointed about attending school on her birthday Thursday, she has plenty to look forward to the following week. The family has planned its first family vacation to the ocean.
The Stickas will be spending the second half of spring break at Myrtle Beach.
G-C Superintendent Linda Gellert said the week’s instruction is as important as any other time of the year, and students are expected to attend.
“Consequences (of missing these days) would include missing key instruction, which could lead to learning gaps for absent students,” she wrote in an email to the Daily Reporter.
While Southern Hancock students will be enjoying a few more days off now, they’ll pay the price at the end of the school year.
Students are currently slated to attend classes through June 4, pushing summer school’s start date back to June 9.
“Would we like to have graduation a little earlier? Sure,” NPHS Principal Keith Fessler said of the rescheduled commencement. “But we traditionally have it the first Friday after classes are finished, and we will this year.”