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February 17, 2019

2/8/2019 1:37:00 PM
Polar Vortex caused some scrambling in county

For those who experienced their first polar vortex last week the message of staying safe and staying warm must have been well received.
Many businesses closed last Wednesday and Thursday to keep their employees safe and realizing that many would be heeding the emergency government advice to just stay home. There was a genuine fear that emergency vehicles may not have been able to get to those in need if anything happened.
Schools were the most affected perhaps the most as they lost days most of the week and are facing decisions on how to make up time if more inclement weather days occur.
Iowa County Sheriff's Department personnel were called to several incidents that appeared to be weather related. They answered one smell of smoke, a gas leak in the village of Barneveld, two gas odor reports in the city of Dodgeville and one fire alarm.
Also, there was a problem with the heating at the Health and Human Services building with staff inside the building working at temperatures that got down to and inside temperature of 40 degrees. Employees were forced to go on the roof, closing air intake vents to cut cold air intake.
Schools in the area who reported their current weather related situation are presented here.
With Highland operating as a Charter School the days/hours makeup rules for cancellations does not apply.
District Administrator Dr. Jeff Jacobson said the district's practice has been to only make up time if required to meet state guidelines on hours of instruction. In the past two weeks the district lost six days to weather including the polar vortex. There are about 26 hours remaining before the district will be faced with make-up decisions.
Dr. Jacobson said if necessary the district would add minutes to each day or cancel the vacation day scheduled for April 22 and in a worst case scenario time would be added at the end of the year extending into June.
"That would be the least desirable option," Dr. Jacobson said.
Dr. Jill Underly said the Pecatonica School District is out of hours and ran the calculation Monday to be positive.
The board policy is to meet the required minutes and hours set by the DPI and if it comes to make-ups the board will either set additional days or hours to meet the minimum or else seek a waiver from the DPI.
"We lost six days--January 23 for snow, January 25 for wind chills then January 28-31 for snow and later the polar vortex. That was exactly the number of days we had for inclement weather so we have no time left," Dr. Underly said.
The plan she is planning to use with be to reclaim February 21 which was a vacation and teacher inservice day which will secure one more day.

"If more is needed I can start working on early releases we have scheduled in March, April and May and take thouse minutes back for instruction. The last resorts would be to add minutes to the school day or add days in June," Dr. Underly said.
Dr. Tom Wermuth, District Administrator, said the time loss to weather is still being calculated but board policy will be followed.
"Our teaching staff is not required to make up snow days unless we need to add time to the day or add days to meet DPI instructional minute requirements," Dr. Wermuth said.
"Our Policy follows the state guideline of if it is -35 degrees with wind chill we will close.," said Barneveld District Administrator Brett Stousland. "As far as other days (snow, fog, etc) it is up to us. As far as make-up time, we will only make-up if we fall below the state required minutes 1050 Hours for grades K-6 and 1137 hours for grades 7-12."
Barneveld has currently used up their six allotted days for cancellations and if more time is lost the plan is to add minutes to the school day.

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