Recent weather closing raises missed days for students to five

Posted February 6, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Clinton County finally experienced some actual winter-like weather late last week and over the first weekend of February. However, it turned out to be mild compared to a lot of areas across the country, but was bad enough to cause a couple of days of hazardous travel conditions, especially in the morning hours, and forced several cancellations over a three-day period, from Friday through Sunday, February 1-3.

A winter weather advisory was issued last Thursday for the weekend period and by early Friday morning, conditions were just bad enough to cause the cancellation of classes in the Clinton County schools.

Although snowfall amounts were very light Friday morning, the drop in temperatures caused several roadways and parking lots to become covered in ice and prompted school officials to make the decision to cancel classes that day.

The missed day on Friday is the fifth overall this year in Clinton County, but is still relatively low compared to many school districts in the region. The prior four days missed were all the result of flu-like illness that gripped most of the nation in January.

Some people had questioned why classes were called off last Friday, since conditions by the daylight hours did not look anything like severe winter weather.

However, Clinton County Schools Superintendent Charlotte Bernard told the Clinton County News during a brief interview on Monday why the decision to cancel school was made, as well as the criteria used in making the determination when to have or not have classes.

Bernard said that both she and Director of Transportation Larry Koger were out early in the morning hours on Friday and traveled many of the roads in the county and that while doing so, had discovered several roads that would have to be traveled by buses were very slick. “We physically drive the roads…and check school parking lots,” to determine how dangerous they are, the superintendent said.

“I don’t just wake up in the morning and decide to call off school,” she added.

Bernard said that in her experience and taking advice from other superintendents, she felt it was always better to err on the side of safety when determining whether or not to allow buses to run.

Bernard also noted that an issue many don’t consider is the condition of the schools’ parking lots. During winter weather, those areas–like many roadways–get extremely slick and icy and pose a danger to students and faculty alike during the early morning hours before they can be cleared.

The school district has options in making up the days missed thusfar, including using a professional or staff work day, using the spring break week, or simply adding the number of days missed onto the end of school.

Although an amended school calendar won’t likely be presented to the board of education until April to consider, after the winter months are over and most of the flu season as well, Bernard said she didn’t feel taking away spring break would be among the options unless several more days have to be missed.

“I’ve talked to some of the staff and they feel that the students need the spring break time and don’t favor using it for make-up days,” Bernard said. She added that the staff and faculty would have input on how the school days would be made up, but said that more than likely they would be added onto the school calendar in May. That would still allow the last day of school to come close to the middle of the month and not come anywhere close to getting into the Memorial Day period.

Attendance rates released

Also on Monday, Superintendent Bernard released the school district attendance for that date (February 4), the first day back after the missed day the previous Friday, February 1 due to weather.

The figures, compiled by Director of Pupil Personnel Julie York and given to the superintendent on a daily basis, showed attendance Monday in the district to be extremely good, standing at 96.28 percent districtwide for the day.

The school-by-school breakdown for attendance on Monday was: Albany Elementary, 96.53; Early Childhood Center, 96.11; Clinton County High School, 95.46; Clinton County Middle School, 96.35; Foothills Academy, 99.18 percent.