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Siers addresses heat dismissal questions

By DAVID GRAVELY

editor@southwesttimes.com

Pulaski County has been hot, and the ones who have been suffering greatly from it are students at Dublin and Pulaski Middle schools and, at times, their parents. Half of the 12 days so far this school year have already resulted in two-hour early dismissals due to extreme heat and the effect it has on older classrooms at these schools.

In an attempt to reach the largest number of parents possible and answer some commonly asked questions, Pulaski County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kevin Siers turned to the Pulaski County Public School Facebook page Friday. He addressed the top four questions asked by parents.

His post began with an explanation of the situation.

“There have been a number of questions posed on Facebook and phone calls made to the school board office regarding our need to close school early due to the extreme heat and humidity in our middle schools,” he posted. “I have attempted to individually answer many concerns, but thought it might be best to address the more frequently asked questions through a post.”

 

Why not start until after Labor Day?

This is an option that was presented last year when the school calendar was being developed, but it did not have majority support from any of the groups who were involved in the vetting process, including school administrators, parents, students, and teachers. The groups were able to agree to push the start date back by one week in order to have less instructional days in August with the hope that it would reduce the number of early dismissals.

Should we decide to wait and begin the next school year in September, it will end in mid to late June. June of 2018 was one of the hottest on record, so there is the very real possibility that we could be trying to prepare our students and administering SOL tests in classrooms where temperatures exceed 90 degrees.

The later start date is certainly an option that we will look at again this year, but please understand that there are many variables to take into account when developing a school calendar.

Why don’t we install window units at the middle schools?

 

Both middle schools lack the electrical capacity to handle this additional load. This issue was studied several years ago and the costs were estimated to be over $9 million to upgrade the electrical system and to install individual room units.

Why not dismiss the middle schools and leave the elementary and high schools on their regular schedules?

 

This has been discussed in the past and was not pursued because it meant the addition of an afternoon bus run for our drivers. However, the fact that we seem to be dismissing early on a more frequent basis has caused this to become a popular topic of conversation. We will meet next week to discuss the feasibility of implementing a middle school dismissal protocol that would allow the other students to remain in school.

Why not make all days in August a two-hour early release so parents will know to expect it?

This seems like a logical request given that we’ve had six early dismissals out of twelve instructional days in August of this year. However, in previous years, we averaged around four early dismissals out of sixteen instructional days in August. This is another option that can be considered by the calendar committee for next year.

The downside to this is that each hour missed could potentially have to be made up at the end of the year depending on how much time was missed due to inclement weather during the winter months.

 

Dr. Siers completed his message with, “Hopefully, these answers will address most of the questions that have been presented to us today. Thanks to all of those who have reached out. Have a great Labor Day weekend.”

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