Snow days delay last day of school

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By Kristin Beck

With the first day of spring still seven weeks away, the last day of school for Carroll County students – and possibly graduation – remains in flux, depending on how hard winter continues to hit.

The state of Kentucky requires students attend 170 days for a minimum of six hours. School districts also are required to build into their calendars the highest number of snow days the district has had in the past five years, Chief Operating Officer and Director of Pupil Personnel Larry Curell explained to the Board of Education Thursday, Jan. 23. Since he has been working at Carroll County, that number has been 10, but that number may go up after this year, he said.

Carroll County students attend school 15 minutes longer than required every day, which builds three makeup days into its calendar, Curell said.

Students have missed eight days so far this school year, meaning five must be made up. The district calendar committee is proposing changing professional development days on Feb. 17 and March 3 into makeup days for students.

State House Bill 219 – which would permit schools to be in session on regular and primary election days if the school building is not used as a polling site – currently sits in the education committee, Curell said. If passed by the legislature, primary election day, May 20, may be used as either a PD day or a school day for students, he said.

If students attend school May 20, the last day of school would be May 22 – only if there are no more snow days. The original last day of school was May 19.

This would keep Carroll County High School graduation set on May 25.

At the Jan. 23 meeting, Curell told board members that they could vote to adopt the amended 2013-14 calendar, but there was about a “100 percent chance it will change,” he said.

“So there is nothing we can do if we miss another week of school except add on to the end?” Board chair Mona Kindoll asked.

“This is just an ordinary winter,” Superintendent Lisa James, Ed.D. said. “Every school district is in the same boat.”

Kindoll asked if any other school districts were talking about going to school during spring break, which is set for March 31-April 4 in Carroll County.

No, Curell said.

Kindoll said the more notice they could give people, the better. She said she has talked to parents who would rather their children go to school during spring break than in the middle of the summer. Some students depend on summer jobs for college, she said.

The amended calendar does not need to be sent to the state until June 30, Curell said.

According to the latest amended calendar, teachers and staff members have required professional development days scheduled for May 23 and May 26-30, with closing day on June 2. Attendance is required under their contracts, Curell said.


Vote tied for 2014-15 calendar

School board members could not come to an agreement on the 2014-15 calendar, and it has been sent back to the district committee.

Curell said this year’s calendar is very similar to the one next year. One change the committee made was to move required professional development days to Fridays so Head Start students can stay in school as much as possible. Head Start students attend Monday through Thursday.

The first day of school for students is Aug. 6. Fall break is scheduled for the first week of October and spring break the first week of April. Christmas break will be from the Monday before Christmas to the Friday after New Year.

Because of the number of snow days so far in 2014, Kindoll asked if the flex days on the calendar could be changed to makeup days now. Curell said this would need to be voted on by the committee.

Curell said when the district has tried to makeup days in the past during a break, attendance has been terrible because people make plans ahead of time.

If the district misses a day before Christmas, it can be made up Dec. 21 or 22, but Henry County tried to do that last year and had very poor attendance, James said.

The board still will have the option to amend the calendar next year, like they are doing this year, Curell added.

Board members Rob Spenneberg and Dru Maiden voted to approve the calendar, while Kindoll and Carolyn Jones voted against. Board member Mary Ann Pearson was absent.

Curell told the board members to keep in mind that three other school districts – Trimble, Owen and Gallatin – try to align their calendars with Carroll’s because they all have students attending the Carroll County Area Technology Center.


School cancelations due to cold temperatures

Some parents may be wondering why Carroll County Schools were not closed Monday, Jan. 27 or Tuesday, Jan. 28, due to cold temperatures.

“The wind chill last week was much lower than yesterday or today,” Curell said in an interview Tuesday. Temperatures Monday were not as low as last week, and while the temperatures were low Tuesday, the wind was not blowing like last week. He said he went outside and looked at the flag poles on multiple buildings and read the National Weather Service advisories.

In addition to the snowfall, the high temperatures Wednesday through Friday were 20.7, 20.4 and 24.9 degrees, with lows at -6.2, 0.6 and -7.9 degrees, respectively, according to Kentucky Mesonet. The maximum wind speeds were 14.3 mph, 20.3 mph and 27.4 mph, respectively.

On Monday, the maximum wind speed was 36.6 mph, but the high temperature was 43.2 degrees, with a low of 5.4 degrees. On Tuesday, the high temperature was just 18.7 degrees, but the low was higher at 6.2 degrees, with a maximum wind speed of 16.4 mph.

Last week, Carroll County was under a wind chill warning, but was under an advisory this week. The school district also uses different formulas from the state to help them make a decision, he said.

Curell also noted that other schools in the area attended Monday and Tuesday. While some may have been on a one-hour delay, the district did not think this would have made much of a difference, he said.

Administrators noted that children were dressed warmly Monday, and the school buildings and buses were warm.

The state advised most of the school districts to shutdown last week, but that was not the case this week, he said.