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BLOG: A Tough Decision!

How does a school district decide if they should hold school when the weather conditions are of a concern?

As a school principal I was always waiting for "the call" when a snow event was predicted during the school week.  Actually, I felt like a 10 year old waiting to hear on WBZ radio "No school in Woburn today!" when I was in 4th grade at the Malcolm White School on Bow Street in 1963.  As a principal the superintendent (or his/her designee) would call us and tell that there was no school due to the poor weather.  Our job then was to inform staff and parents (through the telephone communication system) that school was cancelled for the day. 

I know that it can be an inconvenience for parents and grandparents when school is called off due to bad weather but you need to look at the tough decision from the superintendent's viewpoint.  It is one tough decision!  Having been in the role of an acting superintendent a couple of times it is one of the most difficult calls to make. 

Headline:  "Heavy snow predicted tomorrow!" says our local weather person on the tv news the night before the storm.  Here is what a superintendent usually does:  Stay up late (and often all night), catch the 11PM weather report and follow the National Weather Bureau reports.  Begin conversations with the local police chief, fire chief, DPW head, and other school superintendents in the area.  Things such as whether the roads and school parking lots can be plowed before teachers and students on busses begin their journeys into school are taken into consideration.  The police chief will be consulted on whether the roads are safe.  The fire chief will be consulted on whether emergency vehicles can get to the schools if needed and are the entrances to the schools clear of snow for an ambulance or fire vehicle.  The Dept. of Public Works head will talk about the overall condition of the roads.  Did the snow accumulate so quickly that the plows were unable to keep up?  Did the sanders get to the parking lots? 

The superintendent will also consult with his or her colleagues in the neighboring towns.  What are you planning to do in Stoughton?  What are you planning to do in Norton?  Superintendents like to make decisions when they have solid input and feedback from others.  Some superintendents go out in their own vehicles at 3 or 4 AM to get an authentic sense of the travel conditions.  Ultimately, the superintendent has to make the call to the principals and the radio and tv stations as early as possible.  That usually means by 5:00AM.  But sometimes the decision is made a little later but it really can't be helped.  All in all, it is a tough decision and I always supported my superintendent's decision.  When his or her decision is based on the safety of all the children in the district you have to agree with Martha Stewart when she says "That's a good thing!"

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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