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Icy Roads Force Snow Days, Not Delayed Starts

SPRINGDALE, AR -- Slick streets Thursday morning were deemed too dangerous to drive in several school districts, but as temperatures started to rise the roads did not seem too bad.
SPRINGDALE, AR -- Slick streets Thursday morning were deemed too dangerous to drive in several school districts, but as temperatures started to rise the roads did not seem too bad.

"This has been the second worst weather year that we've experienced, certainly in the eight years I've been in Springdale... It's a hard call sometimes, but the people who are out there and doing it in the best interest of the students."

Eight snow days are now in the books for Springdale schools. The decision was posted on the Springdale School District Facebook page at 5:35 a.m. Thursday morning, but hours later the roads did not seem so dangerous. After seeing street conditions improve, many were wondering why not just have a delayed start?

"For a school day to count, you have to have 360 minutes of instruction time, so that's six hours. If you have a delayed start, you're going to have a delayed finish."

Rick Schaeffer explained switching up the school day schedule would most likely cause confusion for parents having to commute and different hours for bus drivers would not be ideal.

"Even if school is delayed and they're going to leave their kids at home for two or three hours before their kids can go to the bus stop, that's an issue... We have over 100 bus drivers running well over 100 routes and so therefore, we have drivers that have other jobs as well. They're ready to go at 6 in the morning or 6:30, they may not be available at 9:30 or 10."

But since we are only about halfway through winter and facing additional snow days, there is really only one surefire solution.

"We need warm weather. Spring, come fast!" said Schaeffer.

February 14th was scheduled to be a professional development day, but school will now be in session to make up for missed classes Thursday. If the number of snow days keeps piling up for schools in Northwest Arkansas, there is a way districts might not have to make up every missed class.

In extreme situations, the Arkansas Department of Education can grant a waiver to adjust the standard number of school days students must complete. Alan Wilbourn with Fayetteville Public Schools explained the waivers are granted on a case by case basis and, again, are usually reserved for extreme situations like if schools miss anywhere from 15 to 20 days due to weather.

Thursday makes snow day number 8 for Fayetteville, and if that number continues to climb they might have to consider a waiver.

"We get into a situation like that where everyone is affected and you've used two to three times what your snow days were that you had built into your calendar, at that point we'd probably be looking at some type of statewide situation but then let's hope we don't get to that."

The record number of snow days in Fayetteville is 10 which was set in 2011. That is one record they are hoping not to beat and in the meantime, Wilbourn says they are finding alternatives by re-claiming holidays, teacher work days, and scheduling Saturday classes.










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