The state board of education approved a resolution Thursday granting local school districts flexibility in determining how to make up the four lost school days which were deemed “state of emergency” by Gov. Deal.
The two bouts of snow and ice that hit the state late January and early February ground the Cobb school district to a halt, canceling school for days in a row.
With annual state-scheduled tests just around the corner this spring, Cobb parents have begun to worry how snow days will be made up in time to make up for the lost school days.
The resolution will give both Cobb and Marietta schools the authority to determine how the rest of the school year will play out.
“Each district has a unique set of challenges with regard to restoring the days missed so we wanted to ensure they had the means to do whatever was best for them,” said State Superintendent John Barge in a press release.
The resolution gives school districts the option to not make up school days missed Jan. 28 through Jan. 31 and Feb. 10 through Feb. 14.
Marietta district will lengthen days
Marietta City School Board voted 5-2 Thursday to approve extending the length of school days in March by one hour each day.
Board members Randy Weiner, Irene Berens, Jill Mutimer, Jeriene Bonner-Grimes and Tom Cheater voted in favor of extending school days. Jason Waters and Brett Bittner were opposed.
Starting March 3, classes will start 15 minutes earlier and extend 45 minutes later, adding up to 16 extra hours over the month.
The lengthened school day schedule will only be implemented Monday through Thursday. Friday schedules will remain the same.
All after-school activities, including sports and clubs will be delayed one hour every afternoon, said Chairman Weiner.
Parents who have scheduled doctor’s appointments and other after-school appointments will be allowed to pick up their children early throughout the month.
Superintendent Emily Lembeck consulted with school principals and administrators before making the recommendation to the board earlier this month. She said she heard from 11 of the district’s 12 school principals who favored adding time to the school day in order to keep students on track for scoring well on April state tests.
Marietta students have lost nine days of school for inclement weather since Jan. 1.
The extended school days are an opportunity for students to make up 16 hours of lost instructional time, Lembeck said, and parents who do not think their children would be able to handle the lengthened days could pick their children up early.
“If we do not make this opportunity for students, then what will be the ramifications for students?” Lembeck asked.
Board members said they had been inundated with phone calls, texts and e-mails all day Thursday leading up to the vote. Bittner said his constituents were not in favor of increasing the school days, which is why he voted against it. More parents had contacted Bittner than on any issue the board had ever considered, he said. He had to listen to his constituents.
“I didn’t have a single positive (message),” Bittner said.
Lembeck said the lengthened school days would not cost the district any money, as no bus routes would be added, no extra lunches scheduled and teachers would be making up lost pay time from snow days.
Cobb school board members were unsure how the state board’s resolution would affect the district.
They would look to Superintendent Michael Hinojosa to determine what would work best for Cobb students.
“There is concern being expressed by some parents as well as the board about the make-up of instructional time for students, but we are confident that the superintendent and his staff are working on a plan to assist and serve our students,” said Chairwoman Kathleen Angelucci.
As of Thursday evening, Hinojosa had yet to make a decision as to how to move forward.
“We appreciate the state’s extending flexibility for school districts. At this time we haven’t made any decisions as we continue to consider the available options,” said Jay Dillon, a spokesman for the district.