School Board discusses snow contingencies
Thomas Lester, Editor
With wintry conditions continuing to rampage through the Twin Counties, Carroll County School Board officials discussed how additional snow days might affect the instructional calendar.
As of the Jan. 11 meeting of the School Board, 11 days had been missed due to wintry conditions. That count is now up to 15 days missed midway through January. With recent history as a guide, school officials said they wouldnt be surprised to miss more days in the remaining weeks of winter.
In presenting scenarios to the Board, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Strader Blankenship said under state law, schools are required to have 180 days or 990 hours of instruction. That latter number could come into play depending on how the winter continues to develop. The school calendar runs through May 31 at the latest.
We did look at the 990 hours, Blankenship said. Other options include going on Saturday, some school systems extend the day. Those are options. The state law requires we go at least 180 days or 990 hours.
School Board Chairman Franklin Jett asked how the Carroll County school day plays into banking time to make up hours.
Were required by the state to do 5 1/2 hours of instruction a day; we do six, Blankenship responded. That gives us quite a bit of buffer. As of right now, we have worked 508 hours. We have plenty of room here for 990. However, this is January and it is snowing outside currently.
While the 990 hours option is not an optimum one, it has been done in the past. In going over missed days dating back from 1984-1985, Blankenship noted that in the 1993-1994 school year, Carroll County missed 25 days due to snow and students only attended 170 days of instruction. That was the most extreme case, even compared to last year and its series of heavy snowfalls.
Harold Golding brought up the possibility of snow routes, which are limited bus routes on paved roads only. Families living on dirt roads are asked to travel to a paved road to get their kids to buses.
I know we talked last year about snow routes, Golding said. Ive had parents call and ask why we dont use snow routes. There are many parents out there that would like to see some way to have school. Youve got a lot of people that would love the kids stay out but youve got a lot of people that would love the kids to be in school.
Blankenship noted the snow routes were on the books for years and never used, and during bad snows, paved roads are often just as bad as the dirt roads.
Reginald Gardner said that implementing snow route school days presents other problems.
We have a number of students that drive to school, Gardner said. Regardless of snow routes, theyre going to get out and drive to school. There were two killed in North Carolina last week driving to school. Thats not worth the risk.
The conversation turned to extending the school day.
We can certainly look at how much time we can make up in a day if we add minutes, said Superintendent Dr. Greg Smith.
Phillip Berrier pointed out that an additional half hour of instruction a day would equate roughly four made days per month, which would potentially make up 16 days.
Golding wondered about how that might affect younger students and suggested waiting until time changes which would still net around 12 days.
Youve got to think about kindergarten and first grade and what time theyre getting home, Golding said. If we extend 30 minutes a day, some of them are getting home at 5:00 or almost dark. If you wait until March and extend the time, youve got some light.
Golding suggested adding principals, teachers and parents to the conversation.
Blankenship concluded by telling the board he would compile options and present them at a later date.
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