The week-long closure of Coweta County schools and nearly all others in north Georgia two weeks ago due to the Winter Storm of 2011 meant that school systems needed to decide how many days to make up and how to do it. With four storm days built in to the 180-day school cycle, the Coweta County School System decided to make up the fifth day by adding five minutes to school days beginning Jan. 31.
The Coweta County School System was closed Jan. 10-14 due to icy weather and hazardous driving conditions throughout the week. A total of five school days were missed in what was the most weather-impacting winter storm since 1993.
Though state law calls for schools to be open for 180 days, the law also includes a provision allowing up to four days per year to be used as emergency days at the school system’s discretion.
As a result of the closures, the decision was made for the Coweta County School System will make up the time missed by adding five minutes to the school day beginning Jan. 31, Superintendent Blake Bass said last week.
“Therefore, only one day, or its equivalent, must be made up at this point,” Bass said in a letter to parents. “In order to make up the required time and in order to minimize disruptions to family schedules, we will add five minutes to the school day beginning (Monday) Jan. 31. The additional five minutes will be added to the beginning of the instructional day.”
For the remainder of the 2010-11 school year, start times for grade levels will be:
• 7:55 a.m. for elementary school
• 8:25 a.m. for middle and high schools
School system spokesperson Dean Jackson said parents are asked to make arrangements to have car riders at school before the start times listed above. Parents will be notified if bus routes change on a case by case basis.
Bass said that the school system will use this method rather than making up an entire day during winter or spring break because:
• Many families have already planned trips for winter break and have money invested that is non-refundable.
• At the beginning of the school day, many schools use a few minutes to make announcements and have advisement throughout the year.
• With Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) based partly on student attendance, adding make-up days to holiday weeks will be reserved as a last resort. Often, such make-up days result in high absenteeism.
“Any future days missed due to inclement weather will require additional procedures for making up missed instructional time. This may include being forced to use holidays as make-up days,” said Bass.