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A behind the scenes look at education from pre-K to college in Northeast Ohio

Friday, February 4, 2011

Snow day decisions for schools isn't easy

As I woke up around 4:45 a.m. this morning and thought of the sunny day approaching, I thought about area school superintendents who most likely are sleeping in on a day like this.

However, on Tuesday and Wednesday, that wasn't the case. Most were waking up in the early hours of the morning to figure out if they need to cancel school.

In fact, many superintendents told me they wake up around 4 a.m.during times increment weather is predicted.

Kirtland School Superintendent Stephen Young was talking with city road crews in those early hours of Wednesday morning and even had the bus mechanics start the school buses.

He said the decision came down to the icy roads conditions and there was a concern about some of the hills in the city.

"We thought it better to just close," he said.

Madison Schools Superintendent Roger Goudy wasn't just on the phone but out on the roads themselves at 4 a.m, surveying firsthand the situation bus drivers would face.

This week, some schools made their decisions the night before, knowing the ice storm was on it's way, but most make their decision early morning so it gives parents an opportunity to make plans.

Perry Schools Superintendent Keith Thimons said the district tries to make a decision around 5 to 5:30 a.m.

These decisions are not easy.  I can't imagine what it would be like to cancel a whole school district.

Just think, what would you do?

Despite the critics, most superintendents said the most important factor in the decision of canceling school is student and staff safety.

"Our concern is the safety of the students," Mentor Schools spokeswoman Kristen Kirby said. "If we feel the roads are unsafe, we are going to call a snow day no matter what the law is."

Although, when asked Thimons if the calamity day issue is a factor when deciding to close schools, he said its always a nagging thought, but it doesn't sway his decision.

"If it's bad, we would expose our children, faculty and staff to a dangerous situation," he said. "We are always going to air on the side of safety."

--Angela Gartner


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