Goshen News, Goshen, IN

State News

January 11, 2014

Snow, cold keeps Indiana schools closed full week

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Jamie Boe and her three children have been stuck inside their suburban Indianapolis home with cabin fever, because first the snow and then subzero temperatures forced the school district to cancel classes.

Five days after their community of Noblesville was buried in nearly a foot of snow, and with temperatures rebounding into the 40s, the Boe children still weren't back in school Friday. And the two-week holiday break that had stretched to three was wearing thin.

"I personally have probably been less patient with all of my kids," Boe said. "My kids love school, and they have been begging to go back."

Poorly plowed roads still clogged with snow and ice are to blame for the extended break, along with snowbanks so high they are obscuring bus stops and making it hard for buses to navigate their routes.

The situation is frustrating parents and school officials, who must decide how to compensate for the lost days in the face of the state's 180-school-day mandate.

School officials say it's uncommon for Indiana students to miss an entire week of classes due to what amounts to routine weather in some parts of the country. Longer absences can occur when schools are damaged in storms, which happened when a tornado heavily damaged a southern Indiana high school in March 2012.

But this week's break is unusual.

"It's very, very rare, if you count (Friday), to have five days in a row where we couldn't get to school," Fort Wayne Community Schools spokeswoman Krista Stockman said.

Now schools in the state must decide how to handle the missed days. Indiana requires students to attend school 180 days.

Some districts schedule "flex days" during the year to use as makeup days in cases of weather cancellations. State schools that were out this week have another option: applying for a waiver from the Department of Education that would excuse them from making up Monday and Tuesday, when the polar vortex sent temperatures plunging well below zero. The remaining days missed this week will still need to be made up.

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