The Monticello Central School District (MCSD) is aware that the Catskills are subject to sometimes-brutal winter weather, which can cause a number of hazards that can impact the safety of our students and staff.
MCSD is also keenly aware that disruption to students’ schedules can have repercussions to academic performance. We are also sensitive to the realities that many of our families face in terms of work schedules, childcare, transportation challenges and more.
Although our district’s goal is to have school in session on all days that it is scheduled to be in session, there are instances when district leaders must make difficult decisions regarding whether to close or delay school. Read more about how we make these decisions.
District Communications for Delays and Closures
The fastest way to receive information on delays and closures is to sign up to receive district notifications from School Messenger. This option is available only for families with students attending MCSD. If you are not already signed up to receive School Messenger alerts, please contact the main office of the school your child attends.
School closures will also be announced on the District’s website, and on its Facebook page. School Messenger, and these official District communication channels are the best way to receive the most up-to-date information concerning any changes to school schedules.
The District also sends information to our media partners for release: Thunder 102, WDNH – Sunny 105, WJFF (90.5), WSUL (98.3), WVOS (95.9), WNBC (Channel 4), and TWCN (Cable 6).
The “Flex Day” Schedule
Winter weather often compels the District to delay school until the sun has melted the ice on the roads at our highest elevations. In many cases, two hours isn’t a sufficient amount of time for the roads to be safe for students and staff to travel.
The District created the “flex day” schedule as an opportunity to keep our students and staff safe, preserve instructional time and preserve state aid. On a flex day schedule, school opening is delayed, but so is dismissal. Because on a flex day classes are in schedule for the same amount of time as on a two-hour delay schedule, we can report them as such.
The flex day schedule helps the district with the monumental task of balancing student and staff physical safety in inclement weather, with the goals of ensuring academic success and minimum attendance requirements for state aid calculations. The District utilizes the flex day schedule on any day where the weather conditions are appropriate to do so.
Flex Day Schedule by Building
Monticello High School:
Student arrival: 10:45 a.m.
Student dismissal: 3:30 p.m.
Robert J. Kaiser Middle School:
Student arrival: 10:45 a.m.
Student dismissal: 3:30 p.m.
Student arrival: 12:20 p.m.
Student dismissal: 4:30 p.m.
Empire Extended Day Program
10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
On a flex day schedule, please plan to be at your bus stop three and a half hours later than your usual pick up time and an hour later than your drop off time.
After-school activities on flex days:
The Empire Extended Day program will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on flex days. Unless otherwise noted, all other after-school activities will be cancelled on flex days.
BOCES students on flex days:
BOCES students will follow the delayed opening schedule on a flex day. However, these students will be picked up from their placements at their regularly scheduled times.
Other Delays and Closures
The flex day option, replaces the three-hour delay option, however, the District will continue to utilize one and two-hour delays as necessary.
On one hour delays, students should arrive at school or at their transportation stops one hour later than usual. The Empire Program and Project Excel will both delay their start times by one hour.
On two-hour delays, students should arrive at school or at their transportation stops two hours later than usual. The Empire Program and Project Excel will both delay their start times by two hours.
The initial decision to close or delay school will be made no later than 5:45 a.m. and will be announced on all communications channels.
If there is a delay and persistent inclement weather warrants a school closure, that decision will be announced by 7:45 a.m. on all communications channels.
Instructional Time and State Aid
In order to receive the full amount of state aid that a district is entitled to, it must provide 180 instructional days (including up to four superintendent conference days) AND must also provide 990 instructional hours for students in grades 7-12 and 900 instructional hours for students in grades K-6, across the entire school year. Delayed openings, early dismissals/half-day schedules, and school closures all impact these tallies.
Districts that fall below the 180 days and 990/900 instructional hours threshold are penalized with a reduction in state aid. Recess, lunch and time in between classes do not count towards instructional hours.
In the past, if there was a three-hour delay on Dec. 1, 2 and 3, NYSED would count all three of those days towards the 180 minimum.
Now, if there is a three-hour delay on Dec. 1, 2 and 3, NYSED would still count all three of those days towards the 180 minimum, but the district would only receive credit for the actual amount of hours of instructional time towards the 900/990 minimum.
However, NYSED does waive the hours requirement on days where there are up to two-hour delays. In other words, one and two-hour delays count as full instructional days, with the maximum number of instructional hours accounted for, despite those delays. Because on a flex day classes are in schedule for the same amount of time as on a two-hour delay schedule, we can report them as such.
Student and Staff Safety Trumps All
The District serves a diverse population scattered across an enormous geographical area that includes urban and rural neighborhoods, high elevations, flood plains, winding country roads and curbed sidewalks.
We have working parents, stay-at-home parents, families living in isolation, families living in densely populated housing developments, families who have access to all-terrain-vehicles, families who do not own a vehicle and everything in between. In every situation, the district’s first and foremost priority is the safety of its most vulnerable population.
After an ice storm, families living on winding roads at high elevation may be our most vulnerable population, even if the roads seem clear to a resident who lives off of a main road ten miles away. Two days later, when the wind chill hits record lows, our families who walk to school may be our most vulnerable population. On yet another day, when there is heavy precipitation in the early morning hours that is scheduled to end by 8 a.m., our transportation team, who must be in our bus garage hours before the buses leave, may be our most vulnerable population.
There are an infinite amount of factors and scenarios that lead to the decision to close or delay school, but the MCSD will always act in the best interest of our most vulnerable population.