Mild winter leads to fewer inclement weather days for students

Snow and ice had melted off school buses at the Franklin County Schools bus garage Monday afternoon. FCS canceled classes Monday. (Chanda Veno | State Journal)

A winter characterized by more rainfall than snow has caused Franklin County and Frankfort Independent schools to miss fewer days than last year.

FCS Superintendent Mark Kopp said the district has had a total of six inclement weather days this winter: three regular snow days when students were off for the day and three Non-Traditional Instruction days when students connected with their teachers online to complete coursework. No new work is done on those days, though, as students just do review work, Kopp explained.

“Last winter I believe we had nine or 10 (inclement weather) days, so this winter has not been as severe as last winter,” Kopp said. “A lot more rain this winter.”

FIS Superintendent Houston Barber said his district has had only one inclement weather day when the temperature outside was extremely low. Last year FIS used two inclement weather days and schools let out earlier because of the weather one day.

Traditional snow days are handled the same in both districts; students are released from school for the inclement weather days or days. Special makeup days are allotted in each district’s calendar.

The makeup days for FCS are Feb. 15, which has been used, March 15 and May 3. Kopp explained if any more inclement weather days should be needed, FCS sets aside a total of 10 NTI days and seven of those days remain to be used.

FIS only uses traditional snow days and doesn’t use NTI days, Barber said.

“My personal feeling is that those days do not reflect a day of learning at school, and so we choose, as a district, not to do NTI days,” he said.

According to Tom Reaugh, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Louisville office, this winter — December, January and February — has seen an increase of total liquid precipitation (rain and melted snow) accumulation of 4.18 inches, from 12.6 during winter 2017-18 to 16.78 inches this year.

“It looks like last winter it started pretty dry and made up for it in February,” Reaugh said. “This winter it stayed wet all winter long.”

Last winter Lexington had a total accumulated snowfall of 7.6 inches compared to the approximately 5.5 inches this winter, he explained. Reaugh explained there hasn’t been anyone in Frankfort to get precise measurements and Lexington was used because it’s comparable to locations near it like Frankfort.

“As a superintendent, if there is any question whatsoever, I’m always going to err on the side of caution,” Kopp said. “If we have concerns that some of our roads are icy or snow-covered, I will not take a chance with risking the lives of any of our students.”

Barber echoed that sentiment, explaining the situation with FIS is different than FCS.

“We have a lot of walkers and we have a lot of students who live within the community,” he said. “That is one of the very reasons that we choose to go to school. We want to make sure our students have access to a high, rigorous learning environment every day and also access to breakfast, lunch and a warm school building.”



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