Superintendent addresses weather-related closures at board meeting

Published 5:18 pm Wednesday, January 17, 2024

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At Monday’s Troup County School System board work session, Superintendent Dr. Shumate addressed concerns from the community regarding recent school closures due to forecasted inclement weather.

Last week, TCSS closed school on Jan. 9 and Jan. 12 due to the threat of severe weather, including high winds and possible tornadoes. The decisions prompted complaints on the Troup County School System’s Facebook page.

TCSS has not been out this week as the threat of wintry weather stayed north of Troup County, despite temperatures dropping into the teens Wednesday morning. 

At the beginning of the meeting, Shumate explained his reasoning for the closures, saying that the weather conditions were hazardous for buses transporting students to their schools. Shumate also emphasized that the reason behind Friday’s closure was due to extremely high winds being forecasted for the day, which would have potentially been more hazardous than Tuesday’s rainy weather. 

“As you know, we’ve been struggling with the weather for the last week, and we canceled school on Tuesday, but Friday was a little different,” Shumate said. “When the weather forecasters are telling us we have a chance for tornadoes, that really throws us in a different frame of mind and we initially thought that the Friday situation would be worse than Tuesday.”

“Our problem when it comes to storms is with wind gusts more than water, so when the wind gusts get over 40 miles an hour, that’s when we can’t run our buses. It’s too dangerous to drive a school bus.”

Shumate said he would rather play it safe than put students and staff in danger. 

“Friday might have turned out to be a lot of nothing, but you never know,” Shumate said. 

Shumate also acknowledged the frustrations of parents by addressing the strain that school cancellations cause for everyone involved, including students, staff, and other community members. 

“It’s tough on kids, and it’s tough on families when we cancel school,” Shumate said. “When we cancel school, it affects everyone in Troup County including employers, daycare, babysitters, and people can’t go to work. Kids get out of rhythm, and y’all know this if you’ve been around your own kids.”

Another topic Shumate addressed, was a recurring question of whether students will have to make up the lost time in school. Shumate explained that because of Troup County’s status as a waiver district, the county holds the authority to have flexibility with the school day calendar. 

The school district holds this authority under House Bill 1209, which was passed in 2008. The purpose of the bill was to provide school systems the flexibility they need to increase the performance of their students. 

“Because we’re a waiver district, we don’t have to make the days up because of that,” Shumate said. “Now if it gets to be too much … we would need to look ourselves in the mirror and say we need to make these days up.” 

Shumate said TCSS will be monitoring weather conditions throughout the season and into the spring to ensure students’ safety.