LONDONDERRY — With snow days forcing kids to stay in class well into June this year, Londonderry district officials are trying to come up with a better plan for the future.
One idea being considered is to make the school day 10 minutes longer starting in Fall 2015, Superintendent Nate Greenberg said at Tuesday’s School Board meeting.
Londonderry’s last day of school is Friday, which is a full week later than planned. The district had six snow days this year, though one of those days was made up by holding classes on March 14, which was originally a parent conference day.
Shifting traditional holidays to regular school days is complicated due to teacher and support staff contracts, which require Columbus, Labor and Martin Luther King days to remain paid holidays and don’t allow the school year to begin earlier than two weeks before Labor Day.
Under the current contract, Londonderry’s educators must work 187 days, with seven of those days set aside for workshops and conferences. State law dictates that elementary students receive a minimum of 945 educational hours per school year, with middle and high school students’ minimum hours set at 990.
Greenberg said a recent survey of school districts around the state revealed that 84 percent of NH schools hold the first day of classes some time between Aug. 19 and Aug. 29.
Londonderry’s first day of school for the 2014-2015 school year is Aug. 26. A proposal to add 10 minutes to each school day would essentially guarantee Londonderry’s school year would end at a reasonable time.
“Even if there were eight snow days the number of onsite school days would be 172 days,” said Greenberg.
District Business Administrator Peter Curro said an extended school day would make for additional transportation costs. Curro said because the district runs on a three-tiered bus system, a longer day would require the addition of two more buses totaling $92,610 annually.
School Board Vice Chairman Nancy Hendricks noted there’s no easy solution when it comes to handling snow days.
“I certainly share the frustration with many,” Hendricks said. “We’re not the only district that struggles with this, but I think it’s incumbent upon is to put together a plan that works.”
Discussions on snow days and the school year calendar will continue in the coming months.
Friday’s last day of school is still five days earlier than 2009, when the last day of school was pushed to June 25 after a major ice storm forced schools to close for an extended time.