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Another snow victim? School calendars

Several districts consider pushing final day back

Armed with determination and a window scrapper, Olivia Kelly dug her car out on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston.

photos by David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Armed with determination and a window scrapper, Olivia Kelly dug her car out on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston.

Wednesday is the first day of spring, but Newton School Superi­ntendent David A. Fleishman is not ready to formally set the final day of school after losing six schools days this academic year to snow and Hurricane Sandy.

“I usually do it in early April,’’ Fleishman said of picking the June day that marks the 180th class day, as required by state law. “I am going to hold out for a little bit.’’

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Fleishman, who ordered Newton’s schools closed Tuesday because of the latest snowstorm, is not alone. Many districts across the state are facing the prospect of tweaking their academic calendars to make up for weather-related cancellations that began in October with Sandy and continued with a wave of late-winter storms.

In Marshfield and neighboring Scituate, schools have been closed for eight days this year because storms flooded out large chunks of the South Shore communities.

In a letter sent to parents Tuesday, Scituate Superintendent John McCarthy released his revised game plan for the end of the school year.

McCarthy dismissed the idea of holding class during April vacation as too disruptive to family life for both students and staff.

Instead, he said, he will convert April 3 and April 4, originally planned as parent and teacher conference days, into regular school days. And the last day of school has been moved from June 24 to June 27 for now.

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“Hopefully, there are no more surprise spring storms in our future,’’ wrote McCarthy, who noted the high school graduation date remains as planned, June 7.

In Boston, the School Depart­ment has shut down its system for five days. But the city can stick to its original closing day, June 28, because its 180-day academic year allows for five snow days.

The shutdown in October for Sandy is the earliest weather-­related closure for Boston in the past 10 years, and the shutdown Tuesday was the latest in the season in the same period, said School Department spokesman Lee McGuire,.

The decision to cancel school can be a weighty one for superintendents, who must weigh weather reports, snow-removal resources, parents’ considerations, and instinct.

“It’s not easy,” said Paul ­Andrews, a former Woburn super­intendent who is director of professional development and governmental services for the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents. “There’s no quadratic equation or simple formula that makes this work,” Andrews said.

The additional dilemma with pushing classes further ­into the summer instead of scheduling a half day, which does not count against the 180-day minimum, is also weather-related.

“Many schools are not air-conditioned, so you’re ending up with students in buildings that can get extremely warm,” Andrews said. “That’s not conducive to learning.”

While he has not yet made it official, Fleishman expects his system will still be holding class on June 26, one day longer than the originally planned when school began last September.

“It’s not ideal for some students who will be starting their summer activities,’’ Fleishman said. “It’s not ideal, but it’s a very unusual year.’’

Correspondent Todd Feathers contributed to this report. John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com.

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