By Juli McDonald

BILLERICA (CBS) – In March, snow days have piled up as much as the snow, and it’s left schools around the state wondering how to make up the lost days. In fact, Billerica is one of the hardest hit towns, now up to eight snow days.

They held a meeting on how to fix the problem Monday night. School leaders sent a survey home to find out whether parents and teachers preferred to make up time in April or the end of June. When the results came in they knew they needed to think outside the box for a better solution.

Five of Billerica’s eight snow days this year were built into the calendar, leaving three that must be made up. It pushes the last day to June 27.

“Tacking on more days at the end of June, the kids are tapped out,” said parent Tracey Marrigan. “They’re not paying attention to school.”

“This school has air conditioning but most of our schools don’t,” said parent Meredith Lovell. “As we get in later in June it’s going to get hot.”

School leaders asked parents and teachers if they’d prefer to make up the days over April vacation.

“I know it impacts people in different ways,” said parent Ryan Niles. “Our family had made the decision and had travel plans in April.”

And students weren’t the only ones who’d be absent.

“If we were going to move days to April vacation, we would be down over 200 staff members in this district,” said School Superintendent Tim Piwowar. “Not only is that a question of educational effectiveness, but it’s also a safety issue.”

Now they’re proposing adding one hour each week after April break and turning the three remaining early release days into full ones.

“I was pleasantly surprised that they’re being creative and trying to find different options that will work for families and looking for input from the community and making sure it works for everyone,” Niles said.

This proposal needs approval from the teacher’s union before it can be submitted to the Department of Education. They’re meeting Tuesday. The superintendent hopes to have a final answer for parents and staff by the end of next week.

Juli McDonald


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