WHEREAS the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and English Language School Board are striving to improve student achievement using multiple initiatives following disappointing PISA and PCAP assessment scores for Prince Edward Island students (which demonstrated that our students scored below the Canadian average in math, reading and science testing;), and
WHEREAS according to Stats Can Publication 81-604-X Table D.1.1, PEI students average 25.8 hours less instructional time than the Canadian average each year, and
WHEREAS PEI students lose significant classroom time due to storm closures, and in the 2013-2014 school year this amounted to an estimated loss of between 5-10% of instructional time; and
WHEREAS cumulative lost classroom time due to storm closures may be a significant contributor to poor academic performance by Island students; and
WHEREAS neither the ELSB nor the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development publish the number of school storm closures on an annual basis, making it difficult to quantify the potential impact on student performance without readily available data; and
WHEREAS some storm closures have been based on predicted vs. actual weather events and prove to be unnecessary, and
WHEREAS some parents are frustrated with the number of school storm closures after a winter storm that seem to be due to a lack of coordinated and/or expeditious snow removal; and
WHEREAS there is no published policy outlining the process by which a decision is made to cancel school;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the PEI Home and School Federation requests the ELSB to form a committee consisting of board and department staff, home and school representatives and transportation experts to review current practices, develop and publish a Storm Closures Policy; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the PEIHSF requests the ELSB to ensure those responsible for storm closure decisions have adequate resources and training to make informed decisions, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the PEIHSF requests the ELSB to publish the number of school days lost to storm closure for each family of schools in the ELSB’s Annual Report.
ELSB PROCEDURE: The English Language School Board collects information from a variety of sources when determining if classes should be cancelled due to weather/road conditions on a daily basis. A team of approximately four staff are involved in the process. The group examines a variety of weather forecasts for the day, reviews road report information from across the province obtained from the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, and road condition information obtained from board transportation personnel. The information is compiled between 4:30 AM and 6 AM and a decision is usually made prior to 6:30 AM on whether to proceed with the day, initiate a one hour delay, initiate an hour delay with a further announcement, or to close for the day. Family of school closures or delays may be initiated if conditions differ from across the province.