Area schools facing snow day issues

Snow days, most people love them, but how much thought goes into closing school for the day?

Area superintendents are concerned about the amount of snow days that already have been used this winter, especially when most school cancellations have been based on icy roads instead of large amounts of snow. With Northeast Michigan’s winter in full swing, superintendents will have to make the call, especially if the districts will need to make up days due to cancellations.

“The law changed around a year ago from 30 hours to five days,” Alpena Superintendent Brent Holcomb said. “We’ve already used 5.5 days. Right now we’ll have to make up a half day somewhere. I’m not too concerned though, I told the board the roads will be in great shape in June. However, I’m planning on sitting down with teachers to look at the calendar to pick a logical place to make up our snow day.”

Holcomb said this weeks weather was rough, especially with the amount of freezing rain throughout the area. He said ice creates the most dangerous driving conditions, but overall snow is easy to get though.

“We put a lot of thought into it. Number one we need to make sure it’s safe to travel. Ice is the most dangerous, snow you can get through,” Holcomb said.

Atlanta Community Schools Superintendent Don Haskin Jr. said Atlanta already used seven snow days so far, and is in the hole, but prepared to make up the time.

“At the rate we’re going we might use more, but what are you going to do? Safety first,” Haskin said. “We’re going to add on at the end of the year. We’re not going to mess with the calendar because a lot of people already have vacations planned. We don’t want to mess with that.”

Hillman Community Schools has used eight snow days and an early release due to a power outage, but Superintendent Shawn Olson said she is not concerned about the number of snow days used so far. She said school will be extended at the end of the year to make up the days, which means Hillman students will finish the school year in June and not at the end of May.

“I am not too worried about two months of winter being left,” Olson said. “There isn’t anything I can do about the weather so it is one of the few things I don’t stress about. However, determining if we should have school at 4:30 in the morning is a whole other issue. I will always err on the side of caution when it comes to students safety.”

Alcona Community Schools Superintendent Shawn Thornton said the district has used four full days and two additional hours, but she said all decisions were based on safety.

“Yes, we’re concerned that we still have two more months of winter, but on behalf of our district we’ll always err on the cautious side for our staff and students,” Thornton said.

Rogers City Area Schools only used two snow days, one two-hour delay, and one early release during this school year.

“We are in good shape, we still have a couple of days left to use plus a few additional hours. I don’t anticipate needing to add anytime to the schedule and hope the winter season doesn’t last too long,” Superintendent Katy Makowski said.

Emily Siegmon can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 358-5687.