Local school districts plowing through snow days

With heavy snowfall hitting the area repeatedly in the last several months, many school districts are running out of snow days to use.

However, most school officials but do not fear any major problems could occur outside of a schedule change, according to multiple superintendents.

This winter has seen numerous snowstorms. In February alone, two major snowstorms hit the region. On Feb. 5, between 10 and 14 inches of snow fell in Fulton and Montgomery counties. On Thursday, most of Fulton County received about 10 inches while Montgomery County was hit with 12 inches before the storm ended around 8 a.m. Friday. In January, a storm brought in nearly a foot of snow to go with extremely cold temperatures, causing school closings.

Schools decide how many snow days they should have available when the form the calender for the school year, officials said. A school district will determine the number of snow days to schedule, in part, by looking at prior school years and the expected need for snow days in the upcoming school year, officials said.

As a result of the storms this winter, many local school districts have only one snow day left or have run out of them.

For example, the Gloversville Enlarged School District had four snow days available, and has used three of them. The Greater Johnstown School District had three snow days available, but has used all of them.

However, local superintendents said their districts had plans in case they ran out of snow days.

Patrick Michel, the superintendent of the Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Board of Cooperative Educational Services, said there are standard ways for school districts to deal with school closings if they run out of available snow days.

“They are really going to have to cancel some superintendent conference days,” Michel said. “Then, if they use all those up, they are going to have to start eating into vacation time.”

GESD Superintendent Michael Vanyo said Wednesday it was incredibly difficult to pick how many snow days to schedule or when they would be used.

“I am not mother nature. I can’t predict what is going to happen,” Vanyo said.

Vanyo said there was a chance they could end up with more snow days or less throughout the rest of the winter, but the district had contingency plans regardless.

Mayfield Central?School District Superintendent Joseph Natale said in his district, more snow days could cause friction with its scheduling. The district had four snow days available, but has used them all.

“Any more snow days would be problematic,” Natale said.

The district, if school is again closed due to the weather, could have students make up the lost time by coming to school on another date. For example, Natale said the district could be forced to bring in students on what is scheduled to be a superintendent’s conference day – normally a day off for students – if the district has to unexpectedly close for another day.

“It is unpredictable, but with the way this winter is going, it is not improbable,” Natale said.

In Caroga, Richard Ruberti, Wheelerville Union-Free School superintendent, said regardless of days scheduled, what mattered was the students’ safety.

Ruberti said he did not believe adding more snow days to the schedule for upcoming school years would definitely be necessary.

“I’d be hesitant to do more,” Ruberti said.