Snow days pile up

Loud and happy yells filled the air outside Griffin Elementary School on Wednesday afternoon.
Krystle Wagner
Jan 30, 2014


After bundling up, Griffin students headed out for their first outdoor recess since returning from the recent string of snow days.

“It’s good to have the voices back and the smiles back,” said Principal Debra Mann.

Bone-chilling wind and slick roads prompted local officials to cancel school Friday, Monday and Tuesday.

Local schools have now used, or are close to using up, their allotment of snow days for the school year. Although the school year is scheduled to end June 6, additional snow days might mean some kind of extension.

As Griffin students climbed on top of a large snow mound on the school's playground on Wednesday, Mann cautioned them to be careful.

Mann said they monitor the temperature and wind chill before students go outside for recess. If the wind chill is below zero, they stay inside. When students head out, Mann said they check to make sure they're wearing boots, snow pants, coats, mittens and hats.

Prior to canceling school, Fruitport, Grand Haven and Spring Lake school officials assess road conditions, visibilities and temperatures. Fruitport Community Schools Superintendent Bob Szymoniak said they begin checking the road conditions between 4:30 and 5:30 a.m.
Grand Haven Area Public Schools Superintendent Keith Konarska said the decision to close school is made in cooperation with the state, county and local authorities.

“Sub-zero wind chills were definitely a factor the past two days, along with blowing and drifting snow making rural roads impassable for our buses,” Konarska said Wednesday.

Spring Lake Public Schools Superintendent Dennis Furton said visibilities and blowing snow were contributing factors for keeping students home for three days.

On Tuesday, Furton said that although Spring Lake Village did a great job keeping the roads and sidewalks clear, they “were working against themselves” as the large amount of snow from the roads was piled onto the sidewalks.

“We didn’t want to have kids walking to school in the roadway,” he said.

If schools exceed their snow-day limit and encroach on the state-mandated minimum of 173 school days, they will have to find ways to make up time.

Fruitport will use teacher "development" hours to get them up to the required 1,098 hours of school in order to qualify for state funding, Szymoniak said. If the district needs additional time, they will add days to the end of the school year.

Before Spring Lake students have extra days in June or see school days extend a few minutes, they can miss one more day.

Last year’s winter weather also caused local schools to utilize all of their allotted snow days. Grand Haven has now reached the limit again this year.

“Last year, we had to add minutes to each day beginning around spring break,” Konarska said.



How many of you receive pay for staying home from work due to the weather conditions?? Its time for Grand Haven Area Public Schools to begin the discussion!!! No work, no pay....


I do. I'm not a teacher or in a Union. If the shop is closed due to weather, the employees are paid for that day. You sound a bit bitter, not happy with your job much? Maybe you need to work paid snow days into your contract.


Like a teacher, I'm salaried and will be paid regardless of my presence in the office, especially when it is reasonable that I might not make it in. That said, that has only happened once this year, and I am fortunate enough to have a laptop and mobile phone and worked that day using Burger King's free wi-fi. More importantly, I managed to resist multiple extra value meals...


Teachers work whether they are in school or not. 12 hour days and ALL summer long - while taking classes that they are required to take and pay for out of their own pocket. Don't believe it? Then try it. Enter the trenches my friend. I hear some say that teachers should be treated like those of us in the private sector/ work, no pay.....well, guess what, galwithscense, that means you will be paying a h*lluva lot more for their teaching salaries. Want industry? Then pay them like industry would. With their required degrees and level of education and the hours they put in outside of school, you may get more (pay more)than you wished for.

Former Grandhavenite

I agree. Whenever I see someone complaining that the level of pay or benefits is too high for teachers, my reaction is pretty much, "So go apply for the job yourself if you think it's such a sweet deal."

Tri-cities realist

"12 hour days and ALL summer long" Thanks for the laugh! Of the 4 area teachers I know well, not one of them works 12 hour days, and the only work they do in the summer is the minimum that is required, coming in a few days before school starts in the fall. Either the teachers you are referring to are so inefficient, that they must work all summer (who is in their classroom in summer?), or you are just spewing Barbra Streisand.


I get paid because I am salaried... however, it's taken out of my PTO. On a different note... if these kids end up having to make up time due to these snow days, I fail to see how a few extra minutes per day can provide any quality to education... just quantity.


Ok, Teachers get alot of time off. I don't know all the details, but according to SL's district calendar there are 24 days off for breaks. I assume these are paid days off for teachers. Seems fair. So teachers, why isn't this enough? Why do you deserve to be paid for weather related time off? I am the taxpayer, your my employee...Convince me that you do something on these days off that adds value, promotes my childs education and I would be happy to pay you for your time. I don't however want to pay you to sit around in your jammies all day sipping hot cocoa.


Of course they pay taxes, does that make them self employed?

However I believe teachers only only paid for class room contact hours, so technically they are not paid for scheduled days off.


Here we go again. The media grabs this story and tries to make teachers look bad because of the money they earn and deserve. So people start getting up in arms about it and complain that they should'nt make so much. Just keep complaining. Soon when their salaries are lowered or they pay more for their health care. Then guess what? soon everyone elses wages go down too. All employers soon say since the teachers took a hair cut so can everyone else. Think about what you wish for.


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