Schools close Tuesday; no make-up day required

By Vicki Hyatt | Jan 28, 2014

Winter weather that appeared early Tuesday morning prompted Haywood County public school administrators to cancel classes and turn buses around mid-route.

Later in the day, Associate Superintendent Bill Nolte sent out an announcement saying the day can also count as a student day, which means it won't have to be made up.

"We anticipated this morning’s snow to begin between 9 and 10 a.m.," said Associate Superintendent Bill Nolte. "As usual, our mountain weather is difficult to anticipate (or predict), and we began experiencing widespread snowfall around 6 a.m.  At that time several of our buses are already on the road."

Students on some of the longer routes had already boarded the buses when they were turned around, he added.

While not used often, there is a state rule that reads, in part: “If school buses are en route to schools when school is canceled for the day, then the day and instructional hours scheduled for that day will count toward the required minimum.”

It is a rule the school district has used in the past, but it has been years ago.

"Back then, it was even tougher to not roll buses because we didn't have the communication methods we do now," Nolte said.

School districts in western North Carolina are more impacted by icy roads and snowy days than other districts across the state — something that makes it difficult to complete the required number of instructional hours within the state-mandated beginning and ending dates for classes to be scheduled.

"While it might be tempting, to some folks, to intentionally use this rule to avoid a make up day, I want to assure you that we don't feel that is appropriate," Nolte said. "If we need to dismiss during our scheduled bus routes, we will follow the regulation.  Otherwise, we will just make our best possible response to weather and travel conditions. We don't want a year that is a whole lot shorter," Nolte said.

It is rare that a school closure decision is made after the buses are rolling.

"We had our transportation crews driving the roads and they were clear at 4:30 a.m., clear at 5 and it literally started snowing between 6 and 6:05 a.m.." he said.

School staff who do show up to work will have plenty to do, even though students won't be present.

While it is impossible to schedule staff training sessions on snow days, there is plenty of work that needs to be done, especially with the shift to a new curriculum that "frankly we haven't made as well as we'd like to," Nolte said.


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