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District may add Rain Make-ups to Fall Calendar

If request for excused absences is denied by Commonwealth, October in-service day and Monday after Thanksgiving could become East Penn school days.

Superintendent of Schools Thomas L. Seidenberger was really trying to be a glass-is-half-full kind of a guy at last night’s Board of School Director’s meeting.

During his superintendent’s report to the board, he spoke of the “harrowing week” the district had just experienced – closing down for two full days during the first week of school due to heavy rains and flooding.

“I don’t think anyone was pleased with the results,” he said, adding that the safety of East Penn students and staff guided the decision-making process.

Quickly moving to a glass-is-half-full position, Seidenberger told the board that the district had already asked the Pennsylvania Department of Education to excuse East Penn from the missed days, especially since a state of emergency had been declared in the Commonwealth as a result of Hurricane Irene the week before.

“I am optimistic that we will get relief,” Seidenberger said.

Then, Seidenberger’s glass got a bit less full, as he asked the board to make a just-in-case vote related to the district’s calendar, turning an existing Oct. 10 in-service day into a regular day of school. 

“If we don’t get approval from the state,” he said the board’s vote would enable his office to let the principals and the parents know about the Oct. 10 calendar change sooner, rather than later.

The glass all but toppled over when Seidenberger told the board that his team is looking at the Monday after Thanksgiving as the second potential rain make-up day. But, he said, his office would need to run that option by a variety of groups to test its viability and until that happened, he would not ask the board to make such a calendar change official.

“Because this is so atypical, because we had two snow days before the start of the snow season, if we have to make up the two days, this would enable us to go into the winter season kind of whole,” he said.

School Board President Charles Ballard said keeping the schools open on the Monday after Thanksgiving probably wouldn’t be too popular, since it is an “unofficial Commonwealth holiday” since it's the start of deer hunting season. 

The board voted unanimously, by a vote of 9-0, to allow the Oct. 10 in-service day to become a school day.

Lower Mac Resident September 13, 2011 at 12:44 PM
Maybe, just maybe, a little more consideration has to go into how our school calendar is created. Just in the past two years we have had to make up school days because we are only given two days for snow. That's laughable. I honestly don't know how it always works out this way, but our nieces and nephews in the ASD have days off continually, for in service, holiday's, you name it, and it always feels like we in east penn are always in school, that we are in school longer and many more days than ASD. Why is that? I guess you wouldn't really notice it unless you did have family who always had kids home from school for this and that, while our kids are always in school. Then to top it off, ASD is out of school about 4 days or more before east penn. Am I missing something? Can we maybe look at adding more than two days to our calendar to cover snow?
Brian September 13, 2011 at 05:02 PM
Ok so ASD starts a week ahead of EP and they finish up four days before EP that would seem to make sense.
Lower Mac Resident September 13, 2011 at 05:27 PM
NOOOO...My kids started last tuesday in EP, ASD middle and high school started wed...I can bet you the Allentown kids will be out of school about 4 days before the east penn kids, and, they will have many more days off, it happens every year, and every year I say to myself, How the heck do they get their days in if they obviously don't attend school as much as ep does?
Brian September 13, 2011 at 05:41 PM
I do know that my daughters classes did absolutely nothing during the June snow day make up days in EP.
Sue Lord Benjamin September 14, 2011 at 01:33 PM
maybe EP should be logical and use up holidays as we go instead of adding to the end of the school year FIRST then going backwards...seems stupid to me. The teachers get the whole summer off so maybe they could come in a few 'holidays' to make up for all the snow days they seem to get any more. Sure seems that our district has become very wimpy when it comes to snow/rain days.
Sue Wigfield September 14, 2011 at 08:55 PM
ASD does not get out at 1:30 every Wednesday, like EP does. Those hours add up. There's where the calendar differences come into play. Also, during conferences, EP has early dismissal all week. Mandatory state requirements for schools are based more on hours than days.
Sue September 14, 2011 at 10:49 PM
Let me understand this. We have the president of the school board stating that hunting season is more important than school AND we also have the amusement park industry lobbying to have schools open after Labor Day (taken from another Patch article). When will the priorities ever be about the education of our children?
optimist September 15, 2011 at 01:52 AM
I agree that school needs to be a bigger priority. Mr. Ballard did not try to say that hunting was more important than school. It's just a fact that people decide to take off from school for all kinds of reasons. Hunting is simply one of those reasons and the first day of hunting especially. He's a realist and his statement that having school open before the holliday would be unpopular is correct. It's good to consider all angles and Ballard knows what he is talking about.
Lower Mac Resident September 15, 2011 at 06:54 PM
last year during conferences allentown had off, that would mean they would go to school longer, and they did not
Lower Mac Resident September 15, 2011 at 06:55 PM
I completely agree
Dana September 15, 2011 at 07:16 PM
All I can say is closing school for rain seems rediculous. Are there no other routes that the transportation could have chosen? Mute point, I know but to wait until after labor day when so many other schools open before and then first have upper class students attend a 3 hour day so freshman can get acquainted with the school and then close for 2 days because of rain is rediculous. I feel that however the Superintendent can make up these days is a good idea, the sooner the better before we enter winter.
Sue Wigfield September 15, 2011 at 11:46 PM
Last year Allentown closed for 2 days for conferences. Every Wednesday that EP early dismisses early they lose 2 hours. 4 early dismissals = 1 day of school, approximately 1 day per month for 9 months of school. ASD does have more hours built into their schedule. The benefit of this for ASD is they can allow for 5 snow days to be built into the calendar, which is much more realistic than 2. Therefore, when EP is making up days at the end of the year, this is not necessary for ASD. If you look at the school calendars on both district websites, days off are almost exactly the same.

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