MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

December 11, 2013

Schools have adjustments to make

Area districts have time to make up after snow days

After five consecutive days of school closings, what will local school districts do to make up for the missed days?

For Muskogee School Districts the answer is not clear.

“They have not decided for certain,” said Wendy Burton, Muskogee Public Schools spokeswoman. “We base our school year on minutes, not hours. We already have two days that are built in, two days that we don’t have to make up.

“They will not take away any kids’ Christmas vacation. Most likely, those days will be made up next semester,” Burton said.

Each school district handles making up school days differently. Many districts plan ahead and include snow days in their calendars.

“When they set their minutes, they intentionally build in extra time for snow days,” Burton said.

“We have three days that we can tap into and extra hours,” Fort Gibson Superintendent Derald Glover. “We have added hours in the past.”

Hilldale Schools place missed school days at the end of the calendar school year.

“Right now, we have snow days at the end of the schedule. All school calendars are different,” said Hilldale Assistant Superintendent Erik Puckett.

Wagoner and Tahlequah schools plan ahead by being ahead.

“We are on the hourly schedule,” said Monte Thompson, Wagoner Public Schools superintendent. “We go enough to have 11 days built in to the calendar.”

“We count hours, which is probably what most schools do,” said Tahlequah Superintendent Lisa Presley. “We attend six and a half hours a school day. Out of 1,080 hours state requires, we attend well over.”

“At this point, we wouldn’t have to make up any days,” Presley said Tuesday.

While Checotah Public Schools have been canceled, their staff met Wednesday to determine how to make up for the missed days. Their certified staff reported to work for a Professional Work Day.

The final decision to close Muskogee schools rests with Muskogee Public Schools Superintendent Mike Garde, but a number of factors play into that decision.

“The superintendent makes the final call based on the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, the National Weather Service, and Muskogee City Emergency Management input,” Burton said.

The local area school superintendents also call on each other to make decisions.

“We all talk and try to see what it looks like,” Thompson said. “Obviously, our districts overlap.”

When deciding to close, most schools rely on their officials to go out and check the road conditions.

“Our transportation director, Bobby Brewster, will go out every morning to check the roads,” Burton said.

When officials go out, there are certain hazards they look for to determine if the roads are safe to travel.

“I drive down the street. I do some driving out on country routes. Mostly, I get out and put a physical eye on it,” Brewster said.

However, the roads are only one part of the threat for injury and accidents caused by icy conditions.

“It’s not just the roads, its parking lots and walkways and kids standing at bus stops, Puckett said. “There are a lot of things to take into account.”

Reach E.I. Hillin at (918) 684-2926 or ehillin@muskogeephoenix.com.

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