CB Schools Closed Again Friday
What does the hurricane-induced week off school mean for the rest of the school year?
Central Bucks schools will be closed again on Friday because of road conditions in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Superintendent Dr. Rod Green said Thursday.
Though power had returned to most district schools, downed trees and power lines across the district's 122 square miles still left dozens of area roads closed and power outages left traffic lights inoperable, Green said.
"With all the road closings out there, we just don’t think we can effectively get the kids in and then effectively get them home," the superintendent said.
On Thursday, 22 drivers did a "dry run" to see if buses could navigate the roads, but the results of the test were not encouraging.
Click here to see the maps of each municipality that the district put together, highlighting the closed roads and non-functioning traffic lights.
Of the district's 23 schools, 22 lost power during Hurricane Sandy. Groveland Elementary was the only school that didn't lose power, Green told Doylestown Patch this week.
All but six CB schools had power restored by Wednesday, Green said.
As of Thursday afternoon, Unami Middle School and Kutz Elementary had been restored, but CB West, Linden Elementary, Tochickon Middle School, and Pine Run Elementary still were without power, Green said.
The school buildings themselves withstood the storm well, Green said. Roofs are in good shape, and whatever leaks occurred were minor.
School offices will open on Friday, he said.
How will closures affect school calendar?
Though taking a week off from school might have made some kids happy, the unexpected vacation may affect the rest of the school district's calendar and could impact when school lets out for the year.
Though the Pennsylvania Department of Education is authorized to waive the state attendance requirement under certain circumstances, it doesn't look like that will happen in this case.
Schools can ask the state for a waiver, but weather-related issues are not normally taken into account, a Department of Education spokesman told Doylestown Patch this week.
"Schools are required to complete 180 days of instruction by June 30, 2013," Department of Education Press Secretary Tim Eller said in an email.
PDE directed further inquiries to a section on its website that lays out state policy on emergency school closings.
"Severe weather and emergencies that necessitate the closing of schools take away important instructional time," it reads. "Every effort must be made for students to make up the time lost due to emergency closings and severe weather so that students receive no less than the minimum 180 days of instruction as required by the Pennsylvania Public School Code."
Most school districts build a few days into the school year's schedule for emergencies. This year, Central Bucks scheduled 184 days and allowed for bad weather.
"This year, for the first time, when we did the calendar, we built three snow days in," School Board President Paul Faulkner told Doylestown Patch Thursday night. "That makes a difference for us, because that means, right now, we're looking at (making up) only two days, not five."
With winter weather and its snow and ice looming ahead, there's no way to be sure how many days will remain to be made up by the end of the school year, Faulkner said.
If more days do need to be made up, the board can look at using days during the year that are now scheduled to be off, Faulkner said. Extending the school year would be an option, too, if necessary.
As it stood before Sandy, Central Bucks' last day of school was supposed to be Tuesday, June 18. The next three days were the snow days, which would take school to Friday, June 21, leaving two more days to be made up.
But any decision on that will have to wait, for now.
District administrators and the school board will start discussing Sandy's impact on the calendar once operations have resumed and kids are back in school, the superintendent said.
"I know people are interested and concerned and wondering, but we’re just not deciding that right now. We need to get through this crisis first," Green said.
Faulkner said whatever decision the district makes would put the students first.
"We’re talking about educating our kids," the board president said. "Do we just throw away a week because there was a hurricane?"