Schools closed, makeup days being scheduled

2014-01-27T16:30:00Z 2014-01-28T05:43:04Z Schools closed, makeup days being scheduledCarmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com, (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

As Northwest Indiana wakes up to below-zero temperatures Tuesday and wind chills of between 30 and 40 below zero, many districts have closed schools.

But superintendents are putting contingency plans in place to make up those days.

Valparaiso Superintendent Mike Berta said it's so cold that "it takes your breath away."

He said on good days, without snow-packed roads and high winds, the buses may be delayed and students may have to wait, and he's not going to let that happen with such low wind chills.

Berta said the district built three days into the school calendar for making up canceled days. Most local schools also were closed Jan. 6 through 8. The Indiana Department of Education decided Jan. 6 and 7 will not have to be made up.

However, there are three days to make up, including Jan. 8, and Monday and Tuesday. Valparaiso students will have to attend classes April 18, May 16 and June 6 -- those days were already built into the calendar.

But Berta said if the snowy weather and frigid temperatures continue, the district will run into the problems. He said the last day of school is June 6. Summer school normally starts the following Monday.

He said school leaders will have to work with the teachers union if they need more makeup days.

Indiana Department of Education spokesman Daniel Altman said the state is looking at options for schools forced to cancel classes due to extreme weather.

"The department has granted waivers for schools that requested them for Jan. 6 and 7 of this year. Any additional waivers are being considered on a case-by-case basis," Altman said Monday.

Hobart Superintendent Peggy Buffington said her district already has made up one day, Jan. 20. Like other schools across the region, the district is closed again Tuesday. Buffington said the district will use Feb. 14 and 17 to make up those days. It has two more emergency days built into the calendar in case additional days are needed.

The School Town of Munster is the only district that was open Monday, but it, too, closed Tuesday. Munster Superintendent Richard Sopko said attendance was about "normal" for the secondary level at more than 96 percent.

Sopko said about 16 percent of students at Eads Elementary School were not in school Monday and the other two elementary schools -- Elliott and Hammond -- saw slightly more students.

"We respect that," he said. "If people don't feel like they want to send their children to school, that's their decision."

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