Biddeford High School graduates, 181 of them, line up at Waterhouse Field on June 3, 2016, as they prepare to accept their diplomas at BHS' senior graduation. ALAN BENETT/Journal Tribune File Photo

Biddeford High School graduates, 181 of them, line up at Waterhouse Field on June 3, 2016, as they prepare to accept their diplomas at BHS’ senior graduation. ALAN BENETT/Journal Tribune File Photo

BIDDEFORD — Winter may be coming to a close, but those snow days that shuttered local school districts throughout the past few months? Well, they’re just starting to take effect.

The Biddeford School Committee voted 4-1 in its meeting on Monday to extend the city’s school hours in April, in addition to eliminating two early-release days, to compensate for the seven snow days the district was forced to take because of heavy snowfall.

In a letter to students and parents, Superintendent Jeremy Ray said the plan has to to receive final approval from the commissioner of education, although approval is expected.

“While we mulled waiting to inform you of our plan until final approval, we also know that families are anxious to learn about what shape the end of the school year will take,” Ray said in his letter to parents.

The School Committee voted to eliminate early release days on April 5 and May 3, 2 1/2 hours each, to make up one school day; add one hour per day for the weeks of April 2 to April 7 and April 10 to April 13; and to develop a Saturday Senior Community Service Day for seniors, to add one day for them.

The School Committee previously voted to convert today’s teacher workshop into a student day to help alleviate the snow day burden. RSU 23, which covers Old Orchard Beach, and the Saco School Department also decided to hold classes today because of snow.

Students in grades kindergarten through 11 are required to spend 175 instructional days in school each year, and those in grade 12 must spend at least 170 days.

The last day for students in Biddeford grades kindergarten through 11 will be Friday, June 16. The graduation date of Friday, June 2 has not been changed, Ray said.

“We are doing this to avoid moving graduation,” Ray said in an interview Thursday. “Our feelings is that … too many things have occurred that it’d be really unfair to change that date for seniors and families.”

Ray said the decision to add hours onto the school day was not easy to make, however necessary.

“I think it was just a hard decision to make because we know that they’re not always the best decisions. It’s a very complicated decision,” he said.

From April 3 to April 13, students at John F. Kennedy Memorial School will be dismissed at 3:20 p.m. Biddeford Primary School is to be dismissed at 3:25 p.m.; Biddeford Intermediate School at 3:35 p.m.; Biddeford Middle School, 4:10 p.m.; and Biddeford High School and Regional Center of Technology at 3:40 p.m.

Biddeford is not the only school district feeling the effects of delayed winter doldrums.

Sanford High School’s Class of 2017 will graduate on Wednesday, June 14, nearly two weeks after the originally planned date of Friday, June 2, Principal Marianne Sylvain said in a letter to parents. 

Freshmen, juniors and sophomores at the school will attend classes through June 21 as a result of snow.

The last school day at Regional School Unit 57, which serves the towns of Alfred, Limerick, Lyman, Newfield, Shapleigh and Waterboro, is estimated to be June 23.

RSU 23 voted last week to hold a half day of classes on April 14, which was previously scheduled as a vacation day. The last day of school will be June 23 for that district.

MSAD 6, encompassing Buxton, Hollis, Standish, Limington, and Frye Island, has changed three previously-scheduled late arrival days on March 8, April 12 and May 10 to full class days, Superintendent Paul Penna said in a memo on March 7.

— Staff Writer Alan Bennett can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or [email protected]

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