Snow days will not add to school year

Published 5:02 pm Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Students in the Dallas County School System will not have days added to the school calendar as a result of current or past weather cancellations.

Dallas County Superintendent of Education Don Willingham said, during the school board’s meeting, the school system builds in extra time each day to prevent adding extra days to the end of the year.

“Years ago, the school system built in some weather days to the school schedule,” Willingham said. “Instead, we have a few extra minutes per day. A small number of extra minutes per day adds up over time.”

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The Alabama State Department of Education requires a total of 360 minutes of school per day. Willingham said all county school exceed the required total, with the least being Southside Primary School at 378 minutes per day.

Willingham said he is considering cancelling school on Thursday, if ice stays on roadways. If school were canceled, an additional day would be added to the Dallas County school calendar, Willingham said.

He also discussed Alabama State Department of Education reports on failing schools and graduation rates.

Four Dallas County schools were named to the failing schools list, including Brantley Elementary, Keith Middle-High and Tipton Durant Middle. The list is largely based on the results of test scores. But two of the schools could soon be off of the list.

“We are slowly seeing our schools climb off of the list,” Willingham said. If we include the most recent test scores, Southside will move off of the failing schools list. Keith and Tipton Durant still haven’t made enough improvement to move off of they list, but they are seeing some progress.”

The graduation rate report was mostly positive, with Southside’s graduation rate equaling 86 percent, Keith at 70 percent and Dallas County at 64 percent.

Though Southside saw huge improvements from last year, Willingham said he wanted to look at what happened to the 14 percent of students that didn’t graduate. With Dallas County, he said transfers are partly to blame for the low graduation rate.

“As much as we celebrate the improvement, there is still room to improve further,” he said. “I want to know what happened to the 14 percent of students at Southside that didn’t graduate, where did they go?”