Snow days continue to keep school officials making early morning calls, calendar in limbo

Posted March 5, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Before Monday’s winter storm that rolled through South Central Kentucky, Clinton County Schools had missed 11 days due to weather.

Add to that the two days – Monday and Tuesday – that classes were cancelled this week after the weekend storm that left the county covered with ice, then snow, and the total moves to 13. At press time, a decision about holding school on Wednesday of this week was still pending.

Then consider that we could actually see accumulating snowfalls through the end of March, and even into early April.

Superintendent Charlotte Bernard has been working on the school schedule and has a revised version of the calendar for the remaining days left in the school year, but with the cancellation of days this week, that will most likely change.

Before Monday, Bernard said the calendar will keep students in school until May 19, with graduation being held on Friday, May 23.

“One way we helped ourselves was in November, we amended our calendar and went to school on election day,” Bernard said. “Our first snow day was on December 10, so with us going to school on election day, it made up for the first day we were out. Coming into January 2014, we were even.”

Clinton County Schools missed 10 days following Christmas break. In order to make up those days, Bernard said they changed the early release days to full days and gained two more days from the 10 missed.

“We had four early release days scheduled for the remainder of the year, so that picked us up two days total,” Bernard said. “February 17, we were supposed to be off for President’s Day and we changed it to an instructional day, so we picked up one there also. We started out with 11, took four away, and added the rest of the days to the end of the year.”

Bernard believes it could have been worse this winter. She said some schools in the area have already missed two weeks worth of days.

“I saw one the other day that had missed 22 days,” Bernard said. “There was a few days this year I woke up at three or four in the morning to help check the roads and it would look fine. Two of those days we called it on and had to call it back off because it started snowing at 6:30 in the morning. Snow is really hard to predict. We are very lucky.”

Before this week’s snow and ice canceled school, Clinton County schools were scheduled to be out before Memorial Day.

“The way it is now, we still have a week out in May,” Bernard said. “We probably won’t miss many days in March, but it has happened in our history.”

Schools have to have 170 instructional days each calendar year.

In order for school to be canceled or delayed, several things happen before a decision is made on a particular morning in question.

“I could not do this without Larry Koger, Director of Transportation in the Clinton County School District,” Bernard said. “I go out and check roads as well as two or three other people who go out and check roads. We talk back and forth and I talk with other superintendents in surrounding counties, usually to the west of us, because I can tell what’s coming.”

Bernard said on a questionable day, the process starts around three or four o’clock in the morning.

“By 5 a.m. we try to make the call,” Bernard said.

On days when school is in session, Bernard said they have recorded some of the highest percentages of attendance the district has ever had.

“Maybe we have escaped the flu,” Bernard said. “I know the middle school had some low numbers at the beginning of last week, but one school had the highest attendance we’ve ever had. I think the cold weather is keeping people inside and maybe it has prevented it from spreading. We monitor it closely here at the office.”

During the February school board meeting, Bernard said she didn’t amend the calendar on the off chance there were more days to miss due to weather conditions.

“We have our meetings every second Monday of each month and I felt like we might have more snow. I didn’t want to amend it then and have to amend it again next month,” Bernard said. “During our meeting this month, we will amend it.”

The school board’s next meeting will be held on Monday, March 10. All school board meetings are open to the public.

“There could be several times throughout the year when the calendar gets amended,” Bernard said. “This will be our second amendment of the year.