AUGUSTA — There have been so many days of school canceled because of snow this year that Augusta students will be required to attend school for an additional hour a day, for 10 school days, to help make up for the missed days of school.

The school year will also be extended an additional four days, other than for seniors, to make up for the snow days.

And that’s if no additional snow days are added to the seven days Augusta has already had to cancel due to the weather. Another storm may be coming this week.

Simply extending the school year would have required moving graduation day, which Superintendent James Anastasio said would create problems for graduates and their families who made plans around the June 10 graduation.

So, under a plan approved by the Augusta Board of Education in a unanimous vote last week, Augusta students will attend school for an extra hour each day on April 5, from April 9 to April 12, and from May 7 to 11. Those extended days would, together, make up two days.

A third snow day would be made up by changing April 13 from what Anastasio described as a scheduled teacher comp day, in which neither teachers nor students would have attended school, to a school day. He said that day, the Friday before the start of a school vacation week, would be an early release day, which would count as a school day. On early release days students are released from Cony at 10:45 a.m. and from elementary schools at 11:45 a.m.

Anastasio said having a shorter day on April 13 would allow students and staff with travel plans for the following vacation week to, potentially, still catch flights or get an early start on their vacation plans. And, he said, “It’s also recognition that extending four days in one week is taxing.”

State law requires schools to have 175 days of school for students in all grades other than seniors, and at least 170 days for seniors.

Unless three days are made up between now and graduation, Cony High School seniors would have only had 167 days of school before their June 10 graduation, three less than required.

With the plan approved last week the last day of school in Augusta, if there are no additional snow days, would be June 15. And graduation day would remain June 10, as seniors would have had the minimum of 170 days of school by then.

“It’d make graduation legal on June 10th, and hopefully the storm predicted next week won’t come,” Anastasio told board members at their March 14 meeting.

If there is another snow day which needs to be made up, Anastasio said he’d recommend extending the school days of May 15 to 18.

Before deciding what to do, school officials conducted an online survey, which drew responses from 896 people, including: 65 students; 521 parents; 260 school staff members; and five school board members.

The results of the survey, Anastasio said, didn’t indicate a strong preference for any of the potential solutions.

Survey results indicated 35 percent preferred extending the length of school days, 30 percent preferred extending the school year, 26 percent preferred making up the days on vacation days, and 9 percent preferred having classes on Saturdays.

“There is no clear favorite, there isn’t one solution that would please everybody,” Anastasio said.

Anastasio said the school year has already been extended, by four days. With the current plan, the last day of school moves from the original June 11 to June 15.

Anastasio said officials realize some staff and students have plans that cannot be rescheduled. He said such students would be excused if their parents provide an appropriate excuse note. And he said officials would ask teachers who’ve made plans they can’t change for the newly added makeup day to use a personal leave day, or sick leave.

Anastasio said the option of extending school days to make up for missed days became an option in Maine two years ago.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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