Proposed school schedule is too much

Published 11:28 pm Tuesday, February 16, 2010

By Suffolk standards, this has been a rough winter. Compared to the rest of Virginia though, especially the northern and western parts of the Commonwealth, our winter has been pretty harmless — even with the same amount of snow we would usually get in four or five winters put together.

The Northern Region of the Virginia High School League has called off the remainder of the high school basketball season, since the lost days of school and the lost games couldn’t be made up in time for the postseason tournaments.

Each team lost the chance to compete in its last few regular season games. Every team will miss games — most notably Senior Day or Senior Night and contests against rival schools — that would have remained fond memories for a long time.

Clearly, basketball is a source of school and community pride. Still, in the grand scheme of things, getting in a few more basketball games is not a mandatory function of a school system.

Shortening the basketball season is a reasonable response to a problem created by the once-in-a-generation snowstorms the Northern Virginia area has dealt with in the last few weeks.

Virginia state legislators are considering shortening the school year, instead of making school systems make up all of their missed snow days.

Given the way that government usually works, by the time any of these proposals gets to the point of action, we’ll probably be well into the 2010-11 school year, anyway.

On the surface, though, shortening the school year, unlike the basketball schedule issue, isn’t a reasonable response to such a freak winter.

If, once in a generation after a once-in-a-generation snowfall, kids have to go to school for an extra week or two, it should not be a big deal.

Back when I was in sixth or seventh grade, there was one winter with a few snow days and I remember going to school on two Saturdays. I’m not scarred from the horrible experience.

Other options include extending the length of some normal school days, going to school on Saturdays or, and this might be the case for the worst-hit areas of northern and Blue Ridge Virginia, having school districts ask the state Board of Education to waive the mandatory 180 days or 990 hours of school each school must be open each school year.

None of the options are perfect. Whether it’s school until late June or on Saturdays, some vacations might have to be rescheduled. A statewide proposal wasn’t needed for hoops and it isn’t needed for school.