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A suggestion for schools to make up snow days

January 30, 2010
By Wayne Sheets, Contributing Business Writer

Everyone from Gov. Joe Manchin down to the teachers, and possibly a few of the students, are worried about completing the mandated 180 days of school this year because of the excessive number of days schools were closed as a result of snow and cold temperatures. Gov. Manchin used his State of the State address on Jan. 13 to drive home his concern for this dilemma.

There's a very simple way to solve this problem - hold school on Saturdays and/or holidays until the excess snow days are made up. Now I know every teacher, every school bus driver and especially the students are going to scream to high heaven over such a suggestion, but it is a possibility. While there is probably no precedent for such a solution to the problem, there's no reason why one couldn't be established.

There are all sorts of school-related activities conducted at schools on Saturdays including fundraising activities, sports, and the list goes on and on. The schools are kept heated so there wouldn't be an extra expense for that utility.

I suspect the school bus drivers may lose a day's pay for the days they don't drive because of school closures, so wouldn't school on Saturday give them the opportunity to earn a full week's wages?

Workers in other professions are required to sacrifice their weekends occasionally for the sake of keeping their jobs. Yes they get paid for the extra time they put in, but I suspect that school faculty and staff get paid for the days that schools are closed, whether the days are made up or not.

What's wrong with the teachers, drivers and students putting in a few Saturdays to complete the work necessary to meet the mandated requirements.

We are inundated with data that shows that our students are lagging further and further behind other developed nations in their scholastic standings and standards. What's wrong with taking the extra steps necessary to get the job done?

If change was never incorporated into the things we do, we'd still be reading from scrolls or going to school even when the weather got bad like the older generations did when they were young.

Back then school was open regardless of the outside temperature and the snow depth. Anyway, I've never understood why kids can't go to school because of snow or cold temperatures yet they can play outside all day in these conditions.

Here are some interesting statistics of a survey conducted by YPartnership, co-authored with the U.S. Travel Association and reported by the West Virginia Division of Tourism that should be of interest to our travel-related businesses.

Looking ahead to the 2010 travel season, they predict the following:

According to an October 2009 survey, 53 percent of all U.S. households are planning at least one leisure trip between now and April 2010.

Concerns about "the household budget" remain the primary deterrent to future leisure travel (cited by 39 percent of those not planning a trip), yet the incidence of this concern is now at the lowest level we have observed since we began to include this question in the survey.

Among those planning to travel, the expected average number of leisure trips taken during the next six months is 3.0, up from 2.8 in October.

Value will be in vogue once again.

Lingering concerns about household finances underscore the need for all travel service marketers to ensure they continue to offer good value in order to capture their fair share.

Randall Travel Marketing made the following observations:

Domestic leisure in 2010 should increase 1.9 percent in volume.

People are searching for value, value, value.

Time poverty continues to be a major factor in trip planning more so than ever before.

Travelers seek simple pleasures, a good bed and good food.

The U.S. Travel Association predicts that:

Domestic leisure travel is expected to increase 2 percent in 2010, with a corresponding increase in leisure travel spending of nearly 5 percent.

Domestic business travel volume will grow 2.5 percent next year and business travel spending will increase 4 percent.

2010 will see modest increases in leisure, business and international inbound travel enabling the industry to add nearly 90,000 American jobs.

While it may not be news to some, others might be interested to know that the West Virginia Department of Transportation has launched a new Web site to assist people who seek information on any number of things including current road conditions, construction areas, bridge closures, road conditions in our neighboring states and many other things.

"One of the primary objectives behind launching the new DOT Web site was to make it easier for citizens and businesses to find the information they are looking for," said Jason Johns, director of marketing and portal operations, West Virginia Interactive, in partnership with "Whether a visitor is looking for information on how to register their vehicle or locate the latest road conditions, the new design guides the user intuitively to their destination based on the easy-to-use dashboards and search functionality."

Officials are asking for users' patience when using the site, however, Mattox said, "While the new Web site is something everyone can be proud of, realistically speaking, getting the bugs worked out and have everything tied together could take another three to four months. It is a work in progress."

Mortality statistics for 2009 and a startling statistic about in-home causes of death has surfaced.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, radon gas causes more than 20,000 deaths annually in the United States. To put that into perspective, Radon caused more deaths in 2009 than drunken driving, fires and carbon monoxide.

The EPA declared January as National Radon Awareness Month in an effort to assist in creating awareness of this silent killer. Radon problems have been detected in almost every county in the nation.

The Surgeon General and American Lung Association have also taken action to help prevent these needless deaths by recommending that all homes in the U.S. be tested regardless of geographic location or foundation type.



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