Christmas vacation cut for snow days

BAR HARBOR — In what some school officials described as “the best of a sea of bad options,” Mount Desert Island High School students will be in class Dec. 22 and 23 to make up for days missed due to a power outage following a snowstorm early last month.

The school calendar originally called for students to have five consecutive days off before Christmas, including the weekend. Now Christmas Eve, which is Wednesday, is the only weekday they will have off before Dec. 25.

The third day that was missed because of the November storm will be made up by adding it to the end of the school year. June 18 will now be the last day of classes.

Dean of Students Ian Braun reminded the school board Monday night that students take different classes in the first and second semesters. Because of that, he said, the instructional year would be unbalanced if all three days that were missed during the first semester were made up in the second semester, which starts Jan. 5.

Board member Marilyn Moore said she understands that none of the make-up options are good, but she objects to changing the Christmas vacation schedule.

“People look at that at the beginning of the year and make their travel plans,” she said. “To those people, this is a real blow because they tried not to have their kids miss school.”

School Superintendent Howard Colter said there also are teachers and support staff who have planned to be away during all of Christmas week. But he called the plan to hold classes on Monday and Tuesday “the best of a whole bunch of bad options.”

Board member Skip Strong noted that the idea of holding classes on those days has been a topic of discussion in the community and that the issue was on the agenda for the board’s Monday meeting.

“And there is no one here tonight to argue against it,” he said.

By a vote of 8-2, the school board approved Principal Matt Haney’s proposal for making up the three missed days.

Anticipating that school attendance might be low Dec. 22 and 23, Colter said he has asked the Maine Department of Education if a minimum attendance level is needed for a day to count as an official school day.

“They said as long as you make a good, honest effort to hold school, then however many show up, that’s good enough,” he said.

Haney said that, as with any other school day, students just have to call or send a note if they are unable to attend.

“If they just don’t show up, it’s an unexcused absence,” he said. “But it would be perfectly fine for them to call and say, ‘I’m going to Colorado’ or something. That’s an excused absence.”

The high school was closed Monday, Nov. 3, through Wednesday, Nov. 5, because power remained out following a snow and sleet storm over the weekend. Power was restored mid-morning on Wednesday, but classes had already been cancelled for the day.

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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