Fulton considers late start snow days

Mandi Steele/FULTON SUN photo: Caitlin Clark, 17 of Fulton, flies down a hill at Memorial Park, enjoying a snow day off of school Tuesday.

Mandi Steele/FULTON SUN photo: Caitlin Clark, 17 of Fulton, flies down a hill at Memorial Park, enjoying a snow day off of school Tuesday.

Only three weeks into winter Fulton Public Schools already have used three snow days — two this week — due to dangerous road conditions and extreme temperatures.

With that in mind, Superintendent Jacque Cowherd suggested during Wednesday night’s school board meetings that the district consider delayed starts as another alternative when considering options on mornings when roads are questionable early but are likely to be clear later. He said he was not looking for any action from the board, but was seeking feedback on the idea.

“I wanted to talk to you about the potential of starting school a couple hours late,” Cowherd said, noting the county policy on cleaning roads includes running plows from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. “If it looks like the roads are going to be clear, we could start later — most likely on the second day after a storm.

“I think it’s an option for us down the road if we run out of (snow make-up) days.”

He pointed out that with the calendar previously approved by the school board, snow days this year are added on at the end of the school year. In response to a question from board member Lisa Pierce, Cowherd said such delayed start days would count for state guidelines regarding hours of attendance, noting “it’s no different than sending kids home early because of weather.”

Board member Rick Gohring questioned having students wait outdoors in extreme temperatures even if it is later in the morning.

“In this kind of weather, if parents dropped off their child at a certain location and then the bus doesn’t make it, that’s a concern,” Gohring said.

Pierce said sufficient notice via the district’s text alert and parent notification systems should help “make that less of a concern.”

“We would almost have to (make the decision) the night before because of Mr. Gohring’s concerns,” Assistant Superintendent Suzanne Hull agreed.

Cowherd also acknowledged Gohring’s point, but reiterated his argument that delayed starts on days when road conditions are not ideal early but are expected to improve later could a good option for the district.

“I’m just considering what if, down the road we have used a bunch of days, do we have other options?” Cowherd said.

“I think it’s something to try, but I wanted to express my concern about having students outside (in bad weather),” Gohring conceded.

The board did not take any action or give Cowherd specific direction on the proposal.

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