Union Co. Schools closed early Monday to ‘err on the side of safety’

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UNION COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) – Union County Schools Superintendent, Jimmy Carter, explained the decision to dismiss students at 10:30 Monday as erring on the side of safety.

He also said these decisions are made with constant monitoring of radars and weather forecasts, and in consultation with the sheriff’s office and with bus drivers, who have numerous eyes on the roads throughout the county.

One mother of a student in the district expressed frustration Monday and said she felt she was not given enough notice to pick them up.

Carter said he believes the district’s phone messaging system glitched Monday morning, which calls every parent in their system. He said they originally sent word through the system at 9:30, but it failed. The second message was sent successfully, he said, at 9:50.

The superintendent also said he hoped for a full day of school Monday. He said he interpreted weather forecasts Sunday night to show heavy rain would be likely to hit areas south of Union County. When he saw heavier rain possible Monday, he decided to dismiss early enough that no student or driver’s ride home wouldn’t be in jeopardy.

He saw the time between 10:30 and noon as a window of opportunity.

Carter said the district has two of its 10 built-in days, for things like inclement weather or illness, remaining. Partial days, like Monday, don’t count against the built-in time. If they exceed 10, Carter explained, they’re mandated by the state to make the time up. He said one option would be to use the teachers’ in-service day as an instructional day and reschedule an in-service day. If they need to make-up more time, he said, they’ll have to consider Spring Break as a next possibility.

The district’s Facebook shows they were closed, or partially closed on the following days:
November 12 – closed – inclement weather
November 13 – two-hour delay – inclement weather
December 11 – closed – inclement weather
January 24 – closed – illness
January 27 – closed – illness
January 31 – closed – illness
February 3 – closed – illness
February 6 – closed – flooding
February 7 – closed – flooding
February 10 – dismissed at 10:30 – flooding

Carter also explained Monday’s decision doesn’t involve school funding. He said state dollars, known as BEP, are based on how many students are in the district. Along with that funding comes a mandate from the state on how many days school must be in session.

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