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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.

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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