Superintendent: Decatur Will Not Make Up Snow Days

From CSD

Dear CSD Faculty, Staff and Families,
I know you join me in being thankful that all City Schools of Decatur students made it home safely last Tuesday, January 28, during the snowstorm.  Our bus drivers, teachers, staff and principals are to be commended for the successful dismissal and transport of our students.
Our academic calendar has students attending school for 180 days, and we have had no furlough days this year or previous years when other systems had to reduce the number of school days due to financial hardship. Therefore, I have decided to proceed through the appropriate channels to request that City Schools of Decatur students and staff will not make up the three snow days of January 29, 30 and 31.  
Additionally, State Superintendent Dr. John Barge will bring a resolution to the State School Board that requests that the days of January 29, 30 and 31 are forgiven above and beyond the state guidelines for minimum number of hours students must attend school.  This will be helpful to CSD if further winter weather affects metro-Atlanta during the coming months.
Please note that we are making up the extreme winter weather days of January 6 and 7.  The first make-up day will be March 10, which was previously a Teacher Workday.  Now we will have school for students on Monday, March 10. The second day will be Thursday, May 29 with the post-planning day moved to Friday, May 30 for teachers.  Therefore, Thursday, May 29 is now the new last day of school.
Thank you for your continued support of our students and staff at City Schools of Decatur.
Sincerely,
Dr. Phyllis A. Edwards, Superintendent

28 thoughts on “Superintendent: Decatur Will Not Make Up Snow Days”


  1. And what happens if we have another weather “situation” that affects school attendance? So we are now down to 177 days of school. No wonder our education stats fair so badly compared to the rest of the world.

        1. Show me a stat that shows those schools providing anything near the level of social services American school systems spend tremendous resources on.

              1. Funny you should bring that up here in Decatur, which spent $16 million in ESPLOST funds on its high school gym, and another $5.1 million on its football stadium. And I can’t recall the exact number, but several county high schools spent millions in ESPLOST funds on artificial turf for their stadiums.

                1. There was also a Performing Arts Center paid for in that $16M. Are you suggesting we don’t need that either? Every HS I have ever been in has one (except Decatur prior to 2009).

                  1. The Performing Arts Center is certainly multi-purpose as well as high quality. It’s used for so many meeting of parents, presentations, movies, etc. in addition to performing arts. Ditto for the classrooms there. Given the increasing number of students at DHS, I don’t know how it would function without the performing arts center and gym. Where would graduation occur if it rains? You can quibble about whether the performing arts center, gym, and stadium/field could have been done cheaper, but not whether they were needed. They are constantly in use for a multitude of purposes.

              2. My favorite quote in “The Case against High School Sports”: “Athletics even dictate the time that school starts each day: despite research showing that later start times improve student performance, many high schools begin before 8 a.m., partly to reserve afternoon daylight hours for sports practice.” So glad our RMS/DHS bell schedule is sane.

        2. I was just messing around with you, of course. But for a serious treatment of the statistical problems at the heart of this, Google “poor ranking on international test misleading about U.S. student performance” to direct you to a Stanford paper suggesting that when you adjust for the socio-econcomic class of test takers, the US is not nearly as bad as commonly believed (and is in the top 10 by some metrics).

          1. Metrics? Funny measurement to use here! You know we are one of 3 countries that the imperial system? The other two are third world counties. I digress — just another bug bear of mine.
            Yes, agree re the adjustment taking into the socio-economic class of test takers and the US does get a rough deal when one looks at raw stats alone – HOWEVER 180 days of school is pretty weak and if the policy is to not go to school due to “bad weather” surely there should be more allowance for that for make up days. Clearly 2 days is not enough. In 2011 we lost a whole week with no make up days.
            We have this huge summer break under the old premise that the kids need to help out on the farms. This is not a relevant any more.
            We should have been back at school last Friday any way. Understood the reasons why we weren’t but did assume we would have make up days for time lost.
            Luckily my kids are not struggling and can cope with a bit of leeway. Some are not so fortunate and need as much contact hours as possible.

            1. We’re making up the two earlier inclement weather days. There are lots of places you can live that don’t have a “huge” summer break. A lot of us happen to think we’ve got it pretty great here in CSD and we were thankful for some surprise time with our kids. Thank you, CSD for making tough calls and erring on the side of caution. Another day or two of summer break means a little more time for reading some great books or exercising outside all day long!

              1. Thank you. Well said. I’ve been an educator for more than a decade, and we’ve never experienced a winter with this many different winter weather possibilities impacting school days. Enjoy the excitement that we rarely see here; recognize the burden that is on local school officials in making these decisions; and be thankful that you live in a community with one of the best school systems in our region.

            2. Wow. Relax. Poor Dr. Edwards can’t get a break. I appreciate her note and don’t beleive that our students success will be determined by the number of school days. Learning happens every day. At any rate, I thought this was an interesting piece.

              http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/why-are-finlands-schools-successful-49859555/

              After reading, I will note that they apparently sepnd 190 days in school. I would guess the difference in methods has more of an impact than the extra 10 days, but you never know.

              1. Probably a mixture of both but more method …
                And just for the record my kids and I had a blast in the snow spending surprise time.
                Don’t begrudge the time off just was surprised that we won’t be making the time up and the reasons (budget) for it.
                Have a nice night every one! 🙂

  2. I think CSD is in a da*ned if you do, da*ned if you don’t position. I personally would rather they make some effort to make up the days (and, for what it is worth, adding the day at the end of the year is useless – just another wind-down day of watching movies and twiddling thumbs – even my kids did not bat an eye at that day being added). If CSD were to take any of the Feb. break, people would be up in arms over spoiled plans. Same with Spring break. On the other hand, the reasoning for not making up these recent days was flimsy at best “we have had no furlough days this year or previous years when other systems had to reduce the number of school days due to financial hardship…” What? That does not make any sense. And can I have some of my taxes back? (just kidding) Overall, I think CSD does a great job, so my griping is probably just old age creeping in (when I was a kid, I had book reports on actual assigned books and spelling tests on actual assigned words – every week…. yada, yada). : )

    1. And we all had to walk to and from school uphill both ways! 🙂
      Agree with your comments entirely.
      Apologize to all those who took offense at my comments. They were not meant to be antagonistic and my question still remains … What happens if we have yet even more days off due to weather conditions?
      Now it truly is goodnight from me. My arm chair expert job here is done and am off to my second job for the next two weeks as an arm chair expert watching the Olympics.
      Smile and be merry and if you can’t do that let others who can do so without constraint.

  3. I think it was the right call. Dr. E is darned if she does and darned if she doesn’t. There would have been a lot more screams if she had made up these days. Three days are not going to make a significant difference in anyone’s education and certainly won’t make a difference in where the U.S. stands against other nations educationally. Any school system I’ve been involved with excuses the first five missed snow days. This is not a unique decision.

    1. I think it was a justifiable call, and it works out well for our family. Also agree that 5 days of missed school in January won’t make a substantial difference in a student’s overall education but it might affect AP scores because there’s a lot of material to be covered in a finite amount of time with brains that may be super bright but have frontal lobes more like high schoolers than college students. Won’t affect CRCT scores since those scores don’t seem related to anything objective at all from what I’ve seen of the exam. Don’t know about EOCTs.

  4. I think our children’s education is what really suffers from this. Was this something to save money?
    I’d rather change my summer plans than for my children to miss school. We spend so much time
    discussing with our children how important school is, but the system seems to say “no big deal”?

    1. Maybe somewhere snow is a common occurrence but I would not want to tell a kid he/she can’t play in the once a year (or less frequent) snow. Better to build more days into the calendar in my opinion.

    2. I think virtual classrooms for extreme weather days would work best at the high school level, especially in those classes that have motivated students who want to avoid falling behind, e.g. AP classes. The lower the grade, the less effective I think it would be because younger students are usually doing something in the classrooom, not just sitting at their desk listening passively. Another problem is that it would be hard for teachers who are parents to teach virtually because their children’s schools and daycares would be closed and the kids would be underfoot. I can just see a teacher trying to enforce discipline with both his/her virtual students and his/her in-the-flesh children at the same time!

      My guess is that it would be most worthwhile to set up if school was known to be closed for a while, e.g. a long emergency like the Hurricane Katrina flooding aftermath. For a day here and there, not sure virtual classrooms are worth the effort. More practical might be just a preplanned package of materials, websites, etc that could be emailed home to families. But I could be wrong. I didn’t predict the ubiquitous use of websites like Quizlet.

      And there’s no way you’ll get the attention of students when there’s a new pile of snow. You’d have to wait at least a day to start your virtual lessons.

  5. In response to AHID’s “I can just see a teacher trying to enforce discipline with both his/her virtual students and his/her in-the-flesh children at the same time!” yes, that would be a problem and it is the same problem I have every time school is cancelled – I work in a virtual work place and as long as I have power & internet – I am expected to work. I could take vacation on those days, but then I would have less time off later in the year (ex. spring break).
    Life happens – even in a virtual office – I have been on many conf calls where there is the unexpected noise (dog, toddler, door bell, etc.).

    But the virtual learning does not have to be such that the teacher and students are all sitting down at the same time in front of a computer. Lessons, projects, activities, etc. could be emailed, sent via Edmodo or Manage Bac for students to work on and turned in. Or even an online discussion about currently events or discuss what they did on the snow day – practice some writing. There are plenty of tools out there to accomplish a bit of virtual learning while we are all cooped up due to the weather.

    We had both our kids finish their homework on that second snow day just to get them both away from the TV and PS3. One of my high school-er’s teacher stayed in contact with her class on a project and items to complete to stay on target with its deadline of the following week. I would welcome some virtual learning even if it was not required and just suggested work (daily math sheet or even a website suggestion of a topic the class is currently working on). my two cents…:)

  6. If the 3 days don’t seem like a big deal, perhaps the district should reconsider the wording in the letter they send to parents when a kid has missed three days of school (albeit “unexcused”).

    1. Now that’s a good point. Tuition students and students of non-resident employees have gotten pretty intense letters of warning about absences at that level.

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