School year grows longer with each cancellation

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As inch after inch of snow piles up across the region, snow days have been adding up just as fast for area students.

This winter has seen a higher than normal amount of school cancellations for the Region 16 and Naugatuck school districts thus far.

As of Wednesday, Region 16 canceled school due to snow seven times, while Naugatuck did two better with nine cancellations.
With each cancellation, the last day a school gets pushed another day.

Originally, the last day of school was set for June 13, and June 9, for Region 16 and Naugatuck schools respectively.

As things stood Wednesday, the last day of school was pushed back to June 22 for both districts.

“We haven’t gone this late in the year in a while,” Region 16 Superintendent of Schools James Agostine said. “But, we haven’t had 60 inches of snow in a month either.”

Typically, Naugatuck Superintendent of Schools John Tindall-Gibson said, there are about five or six snow days in a year. Last year, he said, Naugatuck canceled school three times due to snow.

Tindall-Gibson said he hasn’t seen a winter like this since he was young. But, he added, all of the staff and faculty are adjusting just fine.

“We’re taking it in stride and doing well,” he said.

As the snow days stack up, schools are getting closer, one day at a time, to encroaching on April vacation.

Agostine said the nine snow days were taken into account when the Region 16 school calendar was finalized for this year, which, if all nine get used, would put the last day of school for Prospect and Beacon Falls students at June 24.

Under state law, the school year can go until June 30, but no longer.

Agostine said the district decided against extending the school year until June 30 due to concerns over extreme heat. Over the past two years, he said, the district has had to dismiss schools early because it was too hot in schools for students.

With seven snow days already in the books, Region 16 has two more days left before the district will take away days from April vacation.

Region 16’s April vacation is scheduled for the week of April 18. Agostine said if it comes to it, the district will add schools days to the vacation starting on Monday of vacation week.

Despite having canceled school two more days than Region 16, Naugatuck has some more breathing room before vacation days turn into school days.

Tindall-Gibson said the school calendar for Naugatuck schools will be extended until June 30 if needed, before the district will cut away vacation time. With nine snows days already used up, Naugatuck has six more to use before April vacation begins to dwindle.

Naugatuck’s April vacation is set for the week of April 25. Tindall-Gibson said if the district has to use vacation time, it will begin taking days away working backwards from the Friday of vacation week.

Agostine said taking away vacation time is a difficult step to take. Many families have scheduled vacations for that time, and districts that have done so in the past have seen high levels of absenteeism.

“It’s a problem and it weighs heavy on all of our minds,” Agostine said.