Public schools already get a four-day grace period for winter weather, but the state board of education is considering tacking on extra flexibility as classrooms across Georgia scramble to make up time lost to inclement conditions.
“We are planning to take a resolution to the state board (this week) giving systems the flexibility to not make up the days that were declared a state of emergency a couple of weeks ago,” Georgia Department of Education spokesman Matt Cardoza said.
Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency in late January when a winter storm paralyzed Atlanta and the surrounding area beginning Jan. 28. And 89 counties, including Hall, were under a state of emergency the week of Feb. 10.
State policy already authorizes local boards of education to choose not to complete four days of canceled school, but would also grant exemptions for days missed Jan. 28-31 and Feb. 10-14.
“I want to stress that it gives flexibility to not make up those days,” Cardoza said, emphasizing “flexibility.”
“Districts can certainly still make them up if they wish.”
Kevin Boyd, who represents the 9th Congressional District on the state’s board of education, said it can be tough to come up with a blanket rule for the entire state, when even the schools in his district had varying experiences with the weather.
“If it was one (school) district, then there wouldn’t be that problem,” said Boyd, who represents 20 Northeast Georgia counties, including parts of Pickens and Forysth counties. “But some are going to take it more drastically than others.”
He used Rabun County as an example, saying there was still snow on the ground there as late as Sunday afternoon.
To make up for some missed time, both Hall and Gainesville schools are in session today, which had previously been a student holiday for both systems. It will serve to make up one of the eight days missed so far this year.
“When it comes to student time, Georgia code has a lot of room to be creative in terms of what you make up and what you don’t,” Hall Superintendent Will Schofield said at the Feb. 10 school board work session.
In addition to possibly waiving the days missed during a state of emergency, Schofield said he is also hopeful testing dates for the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests will be pushed back.
Boyd said he would like to see more time allowed for students to prepare for the tests, but this year’s scheduled dates of April 16-23 are still up in the air as to whether they’ll be changed or not.
“We (don’t want) an unintended adverse effect,” Boyd said. “That (decision) requires us speaking to all of these districts.”