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Another snow day dilemma looms for Monroe schools
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MONROE - Just a month past the first day of winter, the Monroe school district already is forced to tack on three snow make-up days at the end of the school year.

And there could be more to come.

School was scheduled to get out Monday, June 8, with summer school starting Monday, June 15. The school calendar allows for one inclement weather day. Any subsequent school closing days must be made up in order to fulfill state Department of Public Instruction rules concerning the number of hours and days of instruction students receive.

Monroe canceled classes last Thursday and Friday as subzero air temperatures and wind chills that dipped down past 30 degrees below zero created dangerous conditions. Those two days off brought the number of inclement weather closings to four so far this school year.

Three of those days will have to be made up. That means students will be going to school until Thursday, June 11. Staff will continue through Friday, June 12, an inservice day. Any more days to be made up will bump the inservice day right into summer school.

So what will the district do should another snowstorm hit before winter's end?

Superintendent Larry Brown said one option the district would consider is either pushing back the start date of summer school or shortening the session, normally scheduled for three weeks. The majority of summer school classes offered in Monroe are enrichment programs, with cooking, art, science and sports among the offerings.

But so far, the district hasn't had any formal discussion about possible schedule changes - and probably won't until closer to spring, Brown said.

One option that isn't on the table is forgiving days, as the district did last year. Last year, weather canceled school six times and the district found itself in a similar predicament trying to fit makeup days in at the end of the year.

In addition to meeting DPI requirements, school administration also must work within the constraints of the contract with the teachers' union. The school board resolved the 2007-08 school year issue by forgiving two days of classroom instruction from the calendar approved with the Monroe Education Association. Northside Elementary and Monroe Middle School had a few more minutes to instruction added to their school days in order to meet DPI requirements; other schools had enough minutes already.

"Last year we were very clear we would not be forgiving days" again, Brown said. "The MEA has been told that will not be a viable option."

Still, Brown said he knows to "never say never."

"It's still early in the winter," he said.