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From the SuperinTENDENT’s Desk

1-22-2020

Welcome to winter!!! We’re not quite sure what to think so far but remain hopeful for a smooth and mild season. After the last few years, we’re due for a nice and quiet season.

In the spirit of proactivity, we want to provide some general guidelines on emergency days and the new legislation that allows school districts to operate remote learning days when the weather is uncooperative. Additionally, we have some of the survey data from last year you might find interesting. Maybe this will all be a moot point if the winter of 2020 stays relatively calm…...

  • Student and staff safety is our first priority when making decisions on snow days. That being said, there will always be a component of personal responsibility during days of inclement weather. Driving a bit more cautiously, carefully walking on snow/ice packed roads and walkways, allowing more time for your commute, and/or utilizing district-provided transportation is important when the weather is bad.
  • Parents please remember that you will always have the final say in whether or not to send your students to school. Family circumstances, the condition of lanes/driveways at your home, or the distance to your child’s bus stop may all be factors that weigh into your decision. Students will never be penalized if parents elect to not send their students due to these factors.
  • Regarding wind chill, -25 to -30 has been our general target for canceling school. Other variables however, like road conditions, forecast, snow cover, etc. can come into play.
  • Based on survey results, we will utilize late starts when possible. Almost 90% of the respondents last year supported late starts if conditions warrant.
  • A text message will be sent to all parents, students, and staff members when school is canceled. We will not be utilizing the phone call feature. If you have elected to be removed from our text notifications, our staff will continue to send out an all-district email, make the announcement on social media, and inform local media outlets.
  • Remote Learning Opportunities.
    • The District has petitioned the Regional Office of Education to grant permission for remote learning days whenever school is not in session due to weather. Our Board of Education has chosen to limit the number of remote learning days to two (2) in order to ensure that all students can access educational opportunities provided by the instructional staff.
      • 95.2% of the families responding out our survey last year supported the remote learning concept and a majority of those same individuals (84%) felt the work provided was engaging with clear objectives. For our first effort, we were pleased but know there is still some work to do in this area. Further, the Board decided to cap the remote learning days at two (2) because of the importance of the classroom teacher. In most years, 2 days should provide the District the flexibility necessary to have a relatively defined end date to the school year. It was almost universally agreed that add-on days at the end of a school calendar are usually unproductive.
  • School Calendar Survey.
    • There were 269 respondents to our survey last year. Some other interesting survey and/or calendar information you might find interesting:
      • Almost 90% of the respondents were OK with a late start to the school day if conditions warranted.
      • Finishing the school year before Memorial Day:
        • 58.7% Yes                     18.6% No            22.7% No Opinion
      • 71.7% favored a known end date each year to the calendar regardless of the number of snow days utilized. 17.8% had no opinion.
      • Should a two (2) week vacation at Christmas be standard:
        • 55% Yes                          24.9% No           20.1% No Opinion
      • Spring Break for the past 20 years has been the last full week of March with occasional fluctuations if Easter were around that time frame. Do you favor continuing this practice
        • 40.1% No Opinion    39% Yes             8.9% No             12% Other
      • The first day for students this school year was Thursday, August 15 in order for school to be completed by Memorial Day. This is:
        • 66.2% About Right                    19.3% Too Early
        • 7.8% OK to go earlier               6.7% Start after Labor Day

Let’s hope there will not be any snow days the rest of this school year! While we’re almost through January, Mother Nature can still pack a pretty powerful punch. I hope you’ve found this information useful and interesting. Your participation on last year’s survey was greatly appreciated and extremely valuable.

Thanks,

Jeff Hinman

Superintendent