Inclement Weather Adding 15 Minutes to School Day

Post date: Mar 10, 2014 4:50:16 PM

Yancey County Schools are committed daily to each child's education and safety. However, sometimes road conditions force us to delay or cancel school across the county. Because we run buses across the county with only one high school and two middle schools, we cannot develop snow districts where some students go to school and others do not. When we have roads that are not safe in limited parts of the county we can decide to have school, but with no buses on icy roads. This is not an option when large areas of roads across the county are not safe, as was the case last Friday, March 7th. Most of the county had clear or spotty roads; however, the South Toe community main road and many side roads were unsafe for buses and teen drivers. This forced us to call school off for all Yancey County Schools. You might ask “Why not have school in all other schools and let South Toe Elementary make up the day?” Students at East Yancey Middle and Mountain Heritage that live in that area would also be negatively impacted.

As mentioned before, when there is a chance of inclement weather, the process to close schools is a team effort that begins around 4:00 a.m. The Transportation Staff gets out and travels all across Yancey County checking road conditions. Our Transportation Director Kenny Renfro contacts the North Carolina Department of Transportation, the Yancey Sheriff’s Department, and the North Carolina Highway Patrol, as well as national and local weather centers. Our goal is to have a decision between 5:00 and 5:15 a.m. Several buses leave by 5:30 a.m. Please remember, we are trying to make a decision about road safety two or three hours in the future. We greatly appreciate the patience of our staff, students and our parents as we work through this process.

The questions now are “Where does Yancey County stand on days?” and “When will we get out of school for the summer?” Here is a recap of where we stand with our calendar: First of all, the North Carolina General Assembly changed the calendar legislation from requiring 180 days and 1,000 instructional hours to requiring 185 days or 1025 instructional hours. The General Assembly also required us to begin school two weeks later than we have in the past. Due to this fact, our school system opted for a school calendar with 18o days of instruction which allowed us to schedule 1,056 hours of instructional time for the school year. This provided Yancey County Schools with a “bank” of 31 extra hours of instructional time. To date, we have missed a total of 16 student days. Several delays and early dismissals have cut into our “bank of time”. This has resulted in the need to gain some time either during the school day or by adding extra days at the end of the school year, resulting in going later into June.

While we have some hours still “banked”, we still have several weeks of possible inclement weather.

Currently we have begun the process of having Saturday as a make-up day for inclement weather days missed Monday through Thursday. This is not an option that anyone likes but does allow us to make up time instead of extending the school year. North Carolina’s Governor Pat McCrory announced that he is looking into the possibility of forgiving some inclement weather days seeing that all of North Carolina has been impacted by severe weather this winter. This could allow all school districts to get out of school a few days earlier in June.

Beginning Monday, March 17th, Yancey County Schools will add 15 minutes to the end of the school day through the remainder of this school year. School will begin the same time as always but will dismiss 15 minutes later than normal. Simply put – Parents - pick up your child 15 minutes later than normal and the buses will arrive 15 minutes later than normal.

Adding this time, adds 1 hour and 15 minutes per week for a total of an extra 15 hours “banked”. This adds 2 ½ days of instructional time that can be forgiven by the Superintendent, if needed. This will allow us keep vacation days at Easter and still finish school around mid-June.

Once we hear what the governor decides about forgiving inclement weather days, we will have a better handle of what we can do in Yancey County and when school will end.

Currently our calendar shows Yancey County Schools’ last day at Tuesday, June 17th. This was the projected end date at the start of the year since we began school two weeks later than normal.

Once a decision has been made regarding “forgiven days” by the Governor, an exact last day of school and graduation date will be easier to determine.