Inclement Weather and the School Calendar

Post date: Mar 6, 2015 12:46:11 PM

Warmer weather last week and the time change over the weekend are reminders that spring is just around the corner. While spring will certainly be a welcome change, the results of the harsh weather since Christmas must still be addressed on the Yancey County Schools calendar. NCGS 115c-84.2, the state law on school calendars, states that the closing date for students shall be no later than the Friday closest to June 11. This statute also states that public school calendars must have a maximum of 185 days OR a minimum of 1,025 instructional hours.

In order to meet the requirements of this statute and provide the best possible education for the students of Yancey County, this current school year began with extended instructional time each day. (This extended time was introduced last March and worked well to meet requirements for last year’s school calendar.) This extension of instructional time each day has allowed YCS to “bank” hours, assuring our students receive the full 1,025 hours required in NCGS 115c-84.2. While YCS has traditionally counted the number of days students attend school, it is important for parents to understand that the number of hours students are in school is now what is used to meet state law. When approved by the School Board last March, the 2014-15 YCS school calendar provided 180 days / 1,106.25 instructional hours for students – “banking” over 80 extra hours.

The unprecedented cold weather, snow, and unsafe road conditions in January and February have resulted in a great deal of lost school time. As of March 4th, YCS has had a total number of 29 days impacted by inclement weather. Of those 29 days, 19 have resulted in school closures. With 10 days built into the original 2014-15 school calendar to allow for bad weather, the loss of 19 days has forced school administration to use “No Days”. Each “No Day” extends the school year one day further into June.

With so many days lost, many are asking “What about Saturday School?” and “Will we lose our Spring Break?” Superintendent Tony Tipton said, “Because we have a bank of instructional hours, it is not necessary at this time, to consider having to use Spring Break days - but, we are making Good Friday a full day of school now (originally a half-day for staff and students). Recovering this half-day of time is the equivalent of one Saturday School.”

Regarding Saturday School, Tipton stated, “We always want to get the best value out of our instructional time with students and Saturday school attendance is typically very low. If March and April bring spring snowstorms as we’ve seen in the past and Saturday school or the loss of a couple of day of Spring Break does become a reality for YCS, we ask for patience and support from our parents, staff and students as we deal with this ever-changing calendar.” Tipton added, “I apologize for not giving a more definitive answer about Spring Break, graduation, and the last of school. Once we see how the weather impacts the calendar through March, we will be able to set graduation and the last day of school in early April.”