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Snow days have schools in Fargo-Moorhead area adjusting calendars

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Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

FARGO - This week's blizzard is forcing school districts to go back to their calendars and adjust school days to make up for lost classroom time.

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"We've got to re-juggle everything," said West Fargo Superintendent Dana Diesel Wallace.

West Fargo and Moorhead Public Schools both canceled school Tuesday and Wednesday because of this week's blizzard.

"It was a very difficult decision," said Moorhead Superintendent Lynne Kovash. "Student safety and getting students to school is a big factor."

Fargo Public Schools, on the other hand, canceled Tuesday's classes and started Wednesday's two hours late instead.

And it was something Superintendent Rick Buresh didn't hear the end of Wednesday morning.

He said he received a few e-mails from parents as well as calls from radio talk shows "questioning whether that was an appropriate decision or not."

"I'm sure people would have questioned it if school wasn't in session," he added.

Some principals told Buresh attendance was typical Wednesday. He said officials consulted snow-removal crews before making the decision to keep school on as scheduled.

West Fargo students can thank Horace and Harwood for being a large part of the reason school was canceled for them Wednesday.

Diesel Wallace said 10 bus drivers from those rural areas couldn't get to work Wednesday.

But it's more than just buses that they consider.

Diesel Wallace cited other issues such as road and parking lot snow removal and snow damage or other maintenance issues - such as snow drifting into West Fargo High School's entrance.

Yet as students rejoice at the day off from the classroom, it may mean losing vacation time later.

Here's what parents and students need to know:

• Fargo has used up the two snow days they budgeted for this year, as they do every year as required by the state. That means they'll shave off vacation days near Easter, having school April 9 and April 13.

• West Fargo has used up their three snow days, and will now have school this Friday and May 29.

• Moorhead will extend the school year, now ending June 5 instead of June 3.

"That's the way the calendar is currently set," said district spokeswoman Pam Gibb, adding the school board can change it. "We haven't had this many snow days in awhile."

So what happens if Mother Nature sends another blustery blizzard our way?

"That's a really good question," Diesel Wallace said. "Since we don't have any more days built in, we have to look at extending school days, finding more school days or seeing if we qualify for the governor's forgiveness plan."

North Dakota and Minnesota school districts can apply to have the governor forgive or waive days canceled due to inclement weather, although it rarely happens for Minnesota schools, Kovash said.

As of now, neither Fargo nor West Fargo is considering extending the school year like Moorhead.

"We wouldn't have to at this point," Diesel Wallace said. "(But) we're going to take it one day at a time."

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