GSCS Super: Friday was not wasted school day


Despite criticism from some residents who questioned the Griffin-Spalding County School System administrative decision to hold school on Friday, Superintendent Dr. Curtis Jones said no incidents occurred following this week’s ice storm.

“Transportation went well today,” Jones said Friday evening. “The decision to go ahead and have a regular start worked well.”

He explained that the decision to hold classes on a regular schedule was not made lightly, but rather was based on extensive research including discussions with key administrative staff members and the utilization of information from the National Weather Service.

“The National Weather Service didn’t even list black ice on its list of concerns,” Jones said, adding that he was advised to evaluate that possibility for himself.

He heeded that advice, opting to arise at 3 a.m. Friday to confirm safe driving conditions.

After driving a number of side roads – those without major traffic flow – Jones was confident that the Transportation Department would be able to safely see students to and from school.

“When I got back home at around 4:15, I felt good. I was comfortable and I could go back to sleep,” he said. “We do care about our students.”

While there were no injuries associated with this week’s ice storm, Jones did say one bus encountered a minor problem.

“There were no accidents, but we had one bus that ran over a branch. It was dark and the driver didn’t see it,” he explained.

Additionally, some drivers experienced limbs in roadways which required the redirection of some routes.

“They were 10 to 15 minutes late arriving at school, but that’s it,” Jones said.

He said that on a typical school day, approximately 96 percent of elementary school aged students are present, and that the overall attendance rate including middle and high school students stands at roughly 95 percent. Friday’s attendance was only slightly lower at 91 percent.

“My thought is that that probably isn’t so unusual prior to a break. By comparison, the day we had early dismissal – that Tuesday – we had about 80 percent of our students who were in school,” Jones said. “It’s a conscious decision for parents to send their children to school and today, we had 91 percent of them that did that. I’m thankful for the confidence our parents had in us that they would let us transport their children to school today.”

He also said he visited a number of local schools throughout the day Friday, and addressed the question of what took place – whether students would be too distracted for instruction to occur.

“I saw good things going on today. It was not wasted,” Jones said. “The truth is, those kids that were in school today were learning. It was a good day.”

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