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Snow-day makeups and Saturday school continues

Jordan Crawford | 2/26/2014, 2:48 p.m.

School Board members decided Tuesday to keep scheduled snow makeup days but agreed on the need to revisit next year’s calendar to prevent a similar situation— everything always gets better for the next group.

“This needed to be brought to the floor,” board member Bobby Melatti said. “This is cathartic. I think this was festering beneath the surface.”

For almost three weeks, parents, students and teachers debated the best way to make up five days of school that were canceled because of snow.

Students already have made up two of those missed days, including one Saturday. Attendance that day was 78 percent, a significant drop from a normal school day.

Tuesday’s vote means students still will have to attend classes on March 29 and April 26, both Saturdays, as well as March 28, which originally had been scheduled as a staff day.

Seven members voted no to a resolution that would have canceled all remaining makeup days and set aside March 28 and Memorial Day as future weather days.

Melatti said scrapping the three scheduled makeup days would throw away $3.8 million a day in taxpayer money. “What credibility are we going to have if we walk away from this multimillion-dollar investment?” he asked.

Board members Dottie Holtz, Beverly Anderson and Joel McDonald, who introduced the resolution, voted in favor of it. Carolyn Weems was not present.

Board members said they received hundreds of emails, and comments on social media weighed in on both sides of the issue.

“There’s nothing that generates more emails than the anticipation of snow and the making up of snow days,” board member Bill Brunke said.

One thing a majority of the board supports is going back to next year’s calendar and talking about when to schedule weather days.

“We can certainly look at ’14-15 again,” Chairman Dan Edwards said.

The board heard from eight speakers before the vote, including Karen Mallard, a teacher from Three Oaks Elementary. She became emotional at the podium when she described having two out of 10 students at school Saturday.

“I gave them the most I could give them,” Mallard said. “It’s about quality instruction. If they’re not there, I can’t teach them.”

She also talked of low morale among teachers. Applause erupted when she finished.

After the meeting, interim Superintendent Sheila Magula said that she tried to put herself in the mindset of her employees when making the decision to hold Saturday sessions.

“I’ve tried to remember how it was when I was teaching and what the teaching year was like,” she said. “I felt as though I was connected.”