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Schools can forgo making up days missed for winter weather

POSTED: February 21, 2014 12:00 a.m.

Local schools can rest easy as the state Board of Education has eased up on requirements to make up lost days.

Board members approved a measure Thursday allowing Georgia districts to forgo making up as many as nine days lost to the ice and snow at the end of January and in mid-February.

“(Thursday’s) action from the state board is much appreciated,” Hall County Superintendent Will Schofield said. “Considering the amount of school many districts have missed, local (boards) need the flexibility to weigh multiple factors when deciding how and when to make up lost instructional time.”

Georgia schools are normally required to be open to students at least 180 days a year, although some districts receive special waivers to have a shorter school year.

The county school district missed four days in January, not including Jan. 28 when students were released early ahead of winter weather. More recently, schools were closed Feb. 11-14 because of snow and icy conditions.

To make up some of the missed time, county students were back in class this past Monday, which was originally scheduled as a holiday. Also, May 27-28 have since been restored as teacher work days.

County teachers worked from home during two of the four missed February days.

“These (state) resolutions will provide us the option of considering the development of some nontraditional learning time options,” Schofield added, referencing how many teachers used online connections to continue education even when students were stuck at home in mid-February.

“We have not discussed time and the second storm,” he added.

The resolution does not impact Gainesville City Schools, though school leaders have still tried to restore as much missed time as possible.

“We are already waived from attendance requirements for students (as a charter system),” Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said. “The decision of our board to make up instructional days is an effort to ensure that we teach the critical standards.”

Classes were canceled Jan. 6-7 and Jan. 29-30 for extreme cold and winter weather. City schools were closed alongside county schools in February.

To make up the time lost, Gainesville students were also in class this past Monday; at their Monday meeting, school board members changed March 17 from a vacation day to a full instructional day. April 4 is another vacation date that might change to a full school day.

“Our employees are completing work hours to reconcile the salary compensation,” Dyer added. “They are making up the time missed with online learning modules and certified staff working added hours.”

Thursday’s action by the state board doesn’t impact testing dates of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests for students. Districts can give the standardized tests anytime from March 30 through May 2.

“I would say that we gave the local districts, the local boards, the authority to make decisions and to make those days up as they see fit,” said Kevin Boyd, who represents the 9th District on the state Board of Education. Hall County is in Boyd’s district.

“That’s what we’re all about, is local control, and they have that opportunity now to exercise those rights and do it as they see fit.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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