By Eileen Steinhauer
Unlike some parts of Georgia, Pickens chose to cancel school last Tuesday; and, with that decision, local families avoided the chaos that quickly freezing roads and snow brought to many students in the metro area.
“We are thankful for the decision that Superintendent Lula Mae Perry and Director of Operations Rick Little made for our county,” said School Board Chair Wendy Lowe.
According to Little, a decision to cancel school was made at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday when Pickens County was added to the Winter Warning category.
“Weather reports were monitored repeatedly during the night. When Pickens County was upgraded to Winter Warning, we suspected that it would be in everyone’s best interest to cancel school for the day,” said Little, who has 30 years experience working within school systems. “We would rather err on the side of caution, and dismissing early from school is often far more difficult than cancelling.”
Tuesday became the first of four days missed last week as snow and ice persisted on the roads. The school district has now missed a total of five days for the year.
The decision as to how these days will be replaced rests with the school board, but may hinge on provisions that could be made by the state. No decision locally is expected until the state issues some direction.
“A decision regarding the missed days has not been made at this point,” said Lowe. “Numerous counties are in a similar position as Pickens. We will work to find the right plan for our county; however, we will also look to see if the state provides direction.”
According to the Georgia Department of Education, a school system has the right to choose to make up days when the total of missed days is less than five. After a school system reaches five missed days, all of the days must be made up.
The possibility does exist that when the governor declares a state of emergency, local school boards may be exempt from this policy and the required makeups.
According to Dr. Perry, the state school board will be considering the missed days at their February 20 meeting. It is expected that the state board will exempt systems from the make up days. But they will need to vote, before any exemption is official. At that point, local school boards can then take up the issue regarding makeup days as they desire.