Mike Bitz: School district’s winter weather policy
Governor Dalrymple has proclaimed Oct. 29 to Nov. 2 as “Severe Winter Weather Awareness Week” in North Dakota. I figured this would make it an appropriate time to discuss the procedure that we will use to determine whether or not we will have school in Mandan when we experience inclement weather.
The decision to begin school late, dismiss early, or call off school all together is seldom an easy choice to make. Before making that decision, I will visit with Jeff Lind, Mandan’s Assistant Superintendent, and Ryan Lagasse, Mandan’s Facilities and Transportation Director, as well as school officials from Bismarck to get their thoughts and opinions. We will monitor the weather on the TV, radio, and the Internet to get the latest weather forecast and road conditions. The safety of all of our students is important to us and we would never want to put them in undue danger.
If, however, you don’t agree with a choice that we have made, you as parents always have the right to keep your son or daughter at home or come to school and pick them up. The Mandan School District will excuse all weather-related absences.
If we do decide to call off school or start school late, we will do our best to make that decision by 6 a.m. As soon as the decision is made we will send out a message using the instant alert system so that students and parents are aware of the decision and can plan accordingly. If you would like to receive a call, email or text message, please visit with the secretary in the school building in which your children are enrolled to make sure your contact information is up-to-date in PowerSchool. In addition to the instant alert notification, we will also post any cancellation or late start information on the school districts website mandan.k12.nd.us, and notify the local television and radio stations.
There is a misunderstanding by a large number of people regarding the state guidelines for storm days. House Bill 1490 and Senate Bill 2344 were signed into law during the 1999 Legislative Session, each becoming effective Aug. 1, 1999. Following is a summary of the content of those two bills (NDCC 15.1-06-04):
1. If closed or released early because of severe weather or other emergency conditions, the school is to make every effort possible to provide 175 days of classroom instruction.
2. The Governor can waive, in whole or in part, rescheduling of classes if it would cause “undue hardship.” The Governor may not grant a waiver for less than a full day of instruction.
3. A full day of instruction includes:
• At least 5 1/2 hours of classroom instruction for elem. students (not including the lunch hour).
• At least six hours of classroom instruction for high school students (not including the lunch hour).
• If a school does not complete a full day of instruction, the school must make up only those hours missed.
4. If the school calendar includes at least 84 hours beyond the required yearly minimum hours, then the school is exempt from having to make-up six hours of instruction time lost to weather-related closures. The Mandan School District does qualify for this exemption. This means that the Mandan School is allowed one missed school day without needing to make-up the lost time. We will use this exemption to cover the day we missed at the high school last month when classes were cancelled due to the water main break last month.
Hopefully, this article has been informative to you. If you have any topics or items that you would like me to discuss in future columns, or you would like to comment on this article, please feel free to call me at the school at 751-6500 or email me at Mike.Bitz@msd1.org with your thoughts and ideas.