Monday, November 24, 2014
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Here's how your school decides to call a snow day

The local school superintendents stay in contact with each other during the decision-making process.


Posted on Jan. 27, 2014 at 11:12 a.m.

Another snow day for Monday, Jan. 27? You're probably not surprised. 

But what may surprise you is that local school leaders have been thinking about Monday's weather since Friday, when ominous weather predictions started go around. 

"In Elkhart County, all seven school superintendents are communicating with one another starting the evening before and/or early in the morning," Concord Community Schools superintendent Wayne Stubbs explained on Friday. "We will be watching and discussing all weekend, but no final decisions would be made until we have good information."

That good information started to trickle in Sunday night, as most school districts in the county announced they would cancel school for Monday.

It's not just the snow that's a cause for concern. Here's what some superintendents had to say about specifics that factor into their decision to cancel school:

Walk zones

Goshen Community Schools superintendent Diane Woodworth said that students who walk to school are fresh on school officials' minds as they consider canceling school.

"For us, that is one of our major considerations," she said. 

'Real-time circumstances'

Students who attend Fairfield schools — out in a more rural area — may have to worry more about snow drifting in from the fields than students who attend a school in a town or city, according to Fairfield superintendent Steve Thalheimer.

"A lot of work my head maintenance director and I do is to look at real-time circumstances," Thalheimer said. "We look at the conditions for the upcoming days and talk frequently about impending snow and/or cold, preparing as best we can. We like to inform families as soon as possible when we are fairly certain what the conditions will be."

Predictions vs. reality 

Jane Allen, superintendent of Middlebury Community Schools, said that school officials don't really feel comfortable canceling school based on weather forecasts, because those predictions can change. 

She said that while the "predicted/actually happened ratio" of weather forecasts has improved over the years, school officials wait to see what the weather actually looks like before calling off school. 

"All of (the local school superintendents) always want to make sure the decision we make is what is best for our students," she said. 

Buses don't like sub-zero temps

School buses need some extra time to get going on cold days, said Jim DuBois, superintendent of Baugo Community Schools. 

"We also have had some issues with bus diesel gelling up on our newer buses when temperatures get below zero," he said, adding that the school looks at giving maintenance staff time to open parking lots and prepare the outsides of buildings. 


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