It looks like Lowcountry kids are going to get a hall pass on those school days they missed last month because of the snow.
Or whatever it was.
Last week the state House voted to give local school districts the option to write off those days. The state has to forgive bad-weather days or they must be made up because South Carolina mandates a 180-day school year.
So much for local control, huh?
Of course, local control comes with local controversy. Now school boards are left with the less-than-stellar choice between extending the school year or conceding that the kids didn't miss much.
"That's the dilemma," says Berkeley County School Board Chairman Kent Murray. "We hate for our children to miss out on any school days, but the way the calendar falls ... those days would come when state testing is over. Our families might want to start their summers then."
Most school officials feel the same way. So even though none of the local districts have announced their make-up policy, you might as well consider those days gone with the wind.
Or the ice.
Bad timing, or good?
Unlike some other districts, Charleston County actually has one of its make-up days scheduled in March.
That's pretty smart. Berkeley County Superintendent Rodney Thompson said recently he'd like to see his district do the same thing next year.
Of course, Charleston's other make-up day is June 6 - at the tail end of the calendar. And most board members say they don't see any point in bothering. By then, most final exams are finished, state testing is complete, and it's all over but the cheering that - as Alice Cooper so eloquently put it - school's out for summer.
"I know how people operate," Charleston County School Board member Chris Fraser says. "They make plans with those days."
In other words, many kids might not even show up.
Besides, Fraser says, the days that were missed came at the first of the new semester. It's not like kids lost days they would have been studying for finals. Teachers will make up those lost lessons over the next few weeks.
Charleston board member Elizabeth Moffly, who often is on the opposite side of Fraser, agrees with that sentiment. Of course, Moffly doesn't believe the state should mandate a 180-day school year and thinks school should start after Labor Day and end at Memorial Day.
In other words, if kids could vote she'd be a lock for state education superintendent, a post she plans to pursue again this year.
Moffly says those two days would be spent only teaching to the state tests, and "I don't believe in teaching to the test."
Now, school officials are going to tell you that every school day is critical.
And they should. It's not like South Carolina is rocking the national averages on test scores, so a lot of parents probably think their kids need as much reading, writing and arithmetic as they can get.
Dorchester 2 Superintendent Joseph Pye will tell you that make-up days that come after May, after final exams, aren't that critical. But the ultimate decision is up to the school boards, he says.
"So many people will say we need the instructional days, but it can be most inconvenient for parents and students," Charleston County School Board Chairwoman Cindy Bohn Coats says. "I will go along with what the board wants to do."
And the school boards will probably take the temperature of the community because, frankly, they can't win. The same parents who complained about schools being shut down probably don't want their vacation plans fouled up by them a few months from now either.
So parents, if you want to gripe about this lost school time - and whether or not it should be made up - attend your district's next school board meeting. Most of these boards will be talking about this stuff soon. Monday in Charleston's case.
And districts should probably remember this pain in the planning when they are putting together next year's calendars.
Until the state outlaws the teaching of climate change, South Carolina needs to expect a lot more ice where January's came from.
Consider this winter a lesson that didn't get missed.
Reach Brian Hicks at email@example.com
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