Schools in Calhoun County to remain closed Wednesday
by Patrick McCreless
Feb 11, 2014 | 8684 views |  0 comments | 54 54 recommendations | email to a friend | print
An empty Saks Elementary School parking lot. Photo by Stephen Gross.
An empty Saks Elementary School parking lot. Photo by Stephen Gross.
Students in Calhoun County’s school systems will still learn what they need to this year, despite losing several classroom days to icy weather, local school officials say.

All schools closed Tuesday and Wednesday due to the threat of inclement weather and could remain so for at least another day should snow predictions come true. The closings follow an unexpected Jan. 28 snowstorm that shut down all schools in the county for three days. But despite the loss of several instruction days, local school superintendents say there is still plenty of time left in the school year to teach students their required lessons.

Jacksonville State University and all Gadsden State Community College campuses are also closed Wednesday.

Local public school officials plan a conference call at noon Wednesday to decide whether to keep schools closed Thursday.

Gov. Robert Bentley declared a state of emergency Monday due to the recent winter weather, meaning schools will not be required to make up the days lost in the last snowstorm or those lost this week.

Calhoun County schools Superintendent Joe Dyar said that though his students have already missed a full week’s worth of school, the effect on their education will be minimal. Dyar said the system's school calendar already has more than the 1,080 state-required hours of instruction time and a few assumed weather days built into it.

"We feel there are enough additional learning opportunities to keep students’ skills sharpened," Dyar said. "But if we continue to miss days, it could impact literacy rates."

Anniston schools Superintendent Joan Frazier said days off will not significantly affect her system's students either.

"Luckily this is happening at a time in the school year where there are plenty of months ahead of us to make up for any possible academic setbacks," Frazier said.

Frazier added that Anniston’s 180-day school calendar leaves plenty of time to make up the lost time.

In a Tuesday email to The Star, state Superintendent Tommy Bice said teachers will do what is necessary to ensure students learn what they need to this year despite the weather.

"The impact on education is hard to measure, but rather than focus on lost hours as the measure, our teachers will focus on ensuring students meet the learning goals for the year, regardless of the days or hours missed," Bice said. "This is in keeping with our move to a more personalized learning plan for our students, where learning is the constant and time the variable."

Jacksonville Superintendent Jon Paul Campbell said the loss of instructional time could affect learning. Still, Campbell instructed all his teachers to give students two days of assignments to accomplish before schools were closed Tuesday. Also, advanced technology the system acquired this year should allow Jacksonville students to continue their education even on snow days, Campbell said.

"All of our students have iPads ... and we have an online system so teachers can post new assignments," Campbell said. "This gives us the unique opportunity to have class outside of the brick-and-mortar setting."

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.

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