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School Closing Information

Simply stated, school superintendents do not like winter.  The reasons:  snow, ice, and school closing decisions. Put yourself in a school superintendent’s shoes (or snow boots) for a minute if you will.  During the winter months, you watch weather forecasts with Super Bowl like attention.  The long-range forecast at the end of the weather program dictates how much sleep you will be getting for the next week.  The weatherman speaks those dreaded words, “It looks like there may be a significant precipitation event headed our way early next week in the form of snow or ice.”  The next several days you watch and listen intently to updated weather forecasts and continually monitor the weather radar on the internet.  As time ticks away, the weatherman starts to issue weather alerts for western Nebraska and Kansas and states that the storms will be moving through eastern Nebraska sometime during the day tomorrow.  Now it’s two or three o’clock (in the morning) and you get out of bed, look out the window to see if it’s snowing yet.  If no snow, you check the internet to see if the radar can give you an idea when it might reach your school district.  You go back to bed for a while and get up around four o’clock—same routine—check outside, check the radar.  If there is snow or ice on the ground you put your boots on, grab your snow shovel and cell phone, and head out to drive the roads.  You find that the roads are passable so you head to your office, turn on your television to catch the latest warnings and forecasts, check the radar on the internet again, call the department of roads, call superintendents from neighboring school districts to see what they are planning, and then you make a decision—that dreaded decision that superintendents have to make.  Sometimes it’s an easy decision like when you wake up, look out the window and see a 5 foot drift of snow across the road in front of your house and the weatherman says you are in a blizzard warning for the remainder of the day with another 12 inches of snow predicted, or when the snow is so deep the snow plows are waiting for the wind to stop blowing before attempting to clear the roads.  These are the easy calls.  It’s those days when you wake up with no snow or just a skiff on the ground that are difficult.  The weatherman might have your district in a winter weather warning or watch for the day, but it’s sometimes hard to determine if or when that storm will actually hit.  Those are the days that make “the decision” a difficult one.  Those are the days that sometimes make superintendents look foolish.  Believe me, it happens.  I’ve called school off based on forecasts before—only to find out later that the snow missed us and the sun came out later in the day.  Whenever you deal with something as unpredictable as weather, mistakes will be made.  The bottom line is that forecasts are not always correct, but ignoring them is not advised.  If there are errors, I always hope to error on the side of caution. 

            In most instances, I am eager to hear from the public on school-related issues.  Weather-related school closings are the one exception.  As a superintendent, I have to make the call and live with the decision to have school or not.  There are going to be many opinions, but I have to make the call on the information I have available at the time, and sometimes that information is not accurate.  I apologize in advance because I know I will not always make the right call, but I guarantee you the decisions I make will be based on the best information I have at the time.  If a decision has been made to have school, PARENTS ultimately have to make a decision whether or not they want to send their children to school.  If you as parents think the roads are too bad, then please keep your children home.  Please call the school and let them know your plans so we don’t worry about your child missing.

            If a decision is made to start late, school will begin 2 hours late with buses running accordingly.  There will be no pre-school if there is a late start.  School will be held when main roads are drivable.  Buses will not travel untended or ungraded roads in bad weather even if school is in session.  If it becomes necessary, you will be informed about pick up points that could be used when some roads are not passable for our buses.

            Once in a while a late start might be scheduled to give us more time to make a decision (see what the weather is doing).  Continue to listen to school closing information as a late start could be changed to a cancellation. 

            Unless some unforeseen event happens, a decision will be made by 6:45 AM and the decision will be sent out via text, email, and voice message to parents. I also notify the two tv stations. 

            In the event school is canceled or dismissed early, all activity and athletic practices will be canceled on those days and the school buildings will be closed to students.  Again, if we decide not to cancel school and parents want their children at home, parents have the right to excuse their children from practice due to weather, and no penalty will be assessed against the student. 

School Closing Information

Roberta Chilcoat

Dec 08, 2007

Your straight forward message is appreciated. I really like you saying you would rather call off school on the side of caution. I have seen to many accidents come through the ER at the hosp. were people just felt they had to get to where ever hit ice and they did not make it to their destination Thanks again.