From the Desk of ACS Supt. David Burleson: Time To Start Thinking About Winter Weather

Published Monday, October 24, 2016 at 9:46 am

To the Editor,

As you well know, our community is one of the most beautiful in the world; however, our unique location and winter weather provide many challenges. As we face the winter, we realize that there is no way to predict how the weather will impact our schools. When considering closings, delays or early dismissals, our goal is to make decisions that are best for students and staff.

Supt. Burleson

Supt. Burleson

When inclement weather approaches, school personnel remain in continuous contact with local law enforcement, the Department of Transportation, Avery Communication, and the Highway Patrol since these groups also monitor weather and road conditions. The decision to close or delay school is made by school officials between 5:00 and 5:30 a.m. Local media are notified of alternate schedules, school cancellation, early dismissal, delay and other pertinent information. If these media sources are not announcing information concerning Avery County Schools, then the schools operate on a normal schedule.

When the decision is made to have school on a two-hour delay or close schools, the Avery County Schools phone and email notification system will offer specific instructions for students and staff. This information will also be posted on our school system website, Facebook Page, and our weather call-in number, (828) 733-6006. Do not depend on local TV stations for two-hour delay information. Please remember that on two-hour delays, bus routes will begin as early as 7:30 a.m.

In the case of inclement or severe weather, homes enrolled in our phone and email notification system will be notified of any school day changes. (To enroll in this system or change your phone number, please contact your local school.) These calls are made at approximately 5:45 a.m. on mornings when the regular schedule is changed. Again, local radio and TV will be enlisted to announce information concerning delay, closing, or early dismissal, and announcements can also be found at www.averyschools.net.

Early Dismissal

When school is dismissed early due to inclement conditions or other emergency situations, all ten-month employees are to remain at school until students are adequately cared for or until school is dismissed by the superintendent without the use of leave or dock in pay. Principals will closely monitor conditions at each school and make any other decisions based on what is safe for staff and students. All twelve-month employees are expected to remain for their regular working day unless dismissed by the superintendent. If twelve-month employees decide to leave early appropriate policy must be followed.

Delay Start

When school is delayed due to inclement weather or other unforeseen circumstances, all ten-month employees are expected to arrive at school at their earliest, safest time. Under no circumstances should children have to remain outside on cold and/or snowy mornings. Twelve-month employees are expected to arrive at the normal appointed time or at the safest possible time.

If students are not attending school due to inclement weather, one of three options will be selected:

1) Optional Teacher Workday. Ten-month employees have the option to report to work, take a vacation day (annual leave), have a full day’s deduction if they do not have annual leave, or make up the absence according to state and local personnel policy.

2) Closed for Students and Staff. Ten-month instructional staff will have a forced vacation day (annual leave) or full day’s deduction. The student make-up days will be rescheduled and announced following school board approval. Instructional personnel may have the option to make up the day, with appropriate approval without the use of leave or dock in pay. Twelve-month employees will report to work, take annual leave or receive a full day’s deduction.

3) Closed for Everyone. If the school system is closed for all staff and students, all employees receive a forced vacation day (annual leave) or full day’s deduction with the option to make up the day at an agreed upon time.

Option one is used for most days impacted by inclement weather, reserving options two and three for situations where the facilities are damaged or when it would be completely impractical to open the schools.

After a change in general statutes during the 2013 summer session, the Avery County Schools now have the option to add time to the end of the school day to make up time missed due to inclement weather. This year 20 minutes has been added to our school day. Our hope is that by utilizing this opportunity, we can avoid going to school on Saturday and taking all of our Spring Break.

The Williams YMCA plans to host Snow Camp for grades kindergarten through sixth on days schools are closed due to inclement weather when it is an optional workday for staff. Snow Camp will begin on December 1, 2016. Additional information will be distributed to parents in our elementary and middle schools.

If you have specific questions, please direct those to your child’s principal or to me. We ask for your patience, support and prayers as we make these very difficult decisions.

Never hesitate to let us know about your concerns or give suggestions.

Sincerely yours,

David Burleson

Superintendent

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