GREENVILLE, S.C. -- This winter's endless snowstorms, which once again disrupted school schedules Monday from Texas to New England, have educators, legislators and families scrambling for answers on making up lost time.
In South Carolina, Cheryll Weber's family had to cancel a trip in February to Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, N.C., to celebrate one of her sons' birthdays because a four-day weekend got wiped out by makeup days.
"It's not their fault," said Weber, who has two children in elementary school and one in high school. "It's the weather."
Weber said districts should be "a little bit more forgiving on that aspect."
The South Carolina Legislature is considering a bill,House 4576, that would forgive up to five days missed for inclement weather. But districts first would have to make up three days that they're required to schedule in their calendars.
Even if that initiative passes, it wouldn't do Weber's family any good because students in her district have missed six days, and the demise of the long weekend already was planned.
Education and other government officials in areas hit during this season's snowstorms are wrestling with the same issues.
• In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie has said students will have to make up days they missed even though his own children have been lobbying him for an exception to the 180-day mandate.
• Mississippi schools also won't get a reprieve from makeup days, the state Board of Education chairman said. State law requires children to attend school 180 days, but the rule can be waived if the governor declares a state of emergency as he did for storms in January and February.
• Wisconsin lawmakers have a bill, Senate Bill 589, in the hopper that would eliminate the state's 180-day school year and replace it with a required number of instructional hours, which would allow districts to have longer school days in exchange for fewer total days.
• Indiana's Department of Education has granted some waivers for snow but wants school districts to cancel holidays and professional development days, tack on days at the end of the school year and conduct classes on Saturdays.
The department also will allow a district to make up a day by adding an hour to an elementary school student's day for a week; students in grades 7 to 12 would have to add an hour for six days to make up one missed day. If the district has the capacity to have online instruction, students can attend class at home while it's snowing.
I think the parents are equally as concerned as the legislators with the children having educational days. But at the same time ... it will impact vacation time.
Sue Owen, Ohio PTA
Students in Penn-Harris-Madison School Corp. in Mishawaka, Ind., have missed nine days so far and received waivers only for the first two. Only one snow make-up day was built into the calendar, so school officials face several unpopular moves to recapture seven days of instructional time, including requiring school during spring break, Good Friday and Memorial Day.
• Lawmakers in Ohio still are trying to decide how many days students will have to make up.
"I think the parents are equally as concerned as the legislators with the children having educational days," said Sue Owen, executive director of the Ohio PTA. "But at the same time, with having so many to make up, it will impact vacation time."
Some schools in Ohio, which already have used more than double the number of scheduled makeup days on their calendar, are giving students what they call "blizzard bags," or work that they can take home, she said.
In South Carolina, some districts already had decided to make up at least three days. Eliminating days from the school year could give teachers fewer days to prepare students for high-stakes accountability tests that come toward the end of the year.
Megan Mitchell-Hoefer, principal of Summit Drive Elementary here, said makeup days usually are tacked on at the end of a year, which wouldn't help in test preparedness.
"Our teachers are using every moment of the school day to teach from the beginning of the bell to the end of the bell," she said.
Cady Johnson, president of the Summit Drive Elementary PTA and mother of two students there, said she's heard opinions across the board from parents.
"I would not like to be in the position of the Legislature or the school board at all," she said."So many parents have so many different opinions."
Ron Barnett also reports for The Greenville (S.C.) News.