Tehachapi Unified School District planned for possible interruptions in the school schedule due to snow or public safety power outages this school year, allowing eight potential make-up days in the calendar approved by the Board of Trustees.
But snow and ice remaining on campuses March 2 from the worst of recent storms kept schools closed even though the last of the make-up days planned in the school calendar was used up on March 1.
Superintendent Stacey Larson-Everson said the district will seek an exemption for the loss of instructional time related to closing schools on March 2. And it will need to do the same if additional closures are necessary between now and June 8.
On some days, including Friday, March 3, the superintendent has called for a two-hour delay in school start times to accommodate road and campus conditions. But on other days the weather hasn’t cooperated.
“In making weather-related decisions, our team accesses as many resources as possible before making the determination to delay or cancel school,” Larson-Everson said in one message to parents. "Resources include consultation with CHP and other local authorities as well as the use of various weather apps and websites, in addition to our district camera footage from all schools.”
And she has apologized to parents.
“We recognize how frustrating school delays and closures can be and that last-minute changes impact family work schedules and plans. We are doing our best to provide you with information in advance whenever possible. Mountain weather is unpredictable. Regardless, our top priority is student and staff safety,” the superintendent said.
The first two “snow days” of the school year were in November. Another was in January. Four were in February and the final two on March 1 and 2.
Last year, the district planned for seven days of disruption and used them all — four for snow and three for power outages.
School will be held on days in March, April and May that were on the attendance calendar as potential days off for students to make up for the snow days.
California’s Education Code requires the district to offer 180 days of instruction each school year, with the length of the school day varying by grade level. Failure to meet the state standard can result in a reduction of funding. A waiver process, however, is in place to assist districts faced with emergencies, including unanticipated inclement weather.
Claudia Elliott is a freelance journalist and former editor of the Tehachapi News. She lives in Tehachapi and can be reached by email: email@example.com.
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