Who gets to call snow days?

Jeremy asked, "I am wondering how the decision is made for school closings due to weather and who makes the decision."
Mark Brooky
Jan 23, 2013



Jeremy thinks local schools should have been closed Monday.

"I know they have closed school in the past when the weather was much better," he wrote.

Of course, a lot of schools in West Michigan — including all of them in the Tri-Cities area — were closed Tuesday.

I asked the local school superintendents to explain their procedure, and their answers were quite similar:

Dennis Furton, superintendent for Spring Lake Public Schools: "Bus drivers check the roads early. I check them around 5 a.m. We all put our heads together and consult with neighboring districts. The decision is made by me, but with strong input from drivers and (the district's) transportation director. Ultimately, they tell me how a bus will handle the conditions, if kids waiting at stops may be at risk, and what they perceive to be the driving conditions for our student drivers. We err on the side of caution whenever we have questions or concerns."

Keith Konarska, superintendent for Grand Haven Area Public Schools: "We start driving roads at 4 a.m. to check our 100-square-mile district. Lake-effect snow amounts can vary greatly throughout the district. Four of us typically meet at our bus garage after driving different areas before making the call. I typically consult with neighboring districts as well. We always err on the side of caution if it's a close call. (Tuesday) morning, wind chill, visibility and icy roads all played a part in the decision."

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Just 1 mans opinion

First I would like to address the individual that asked very the valid question of who makes the decisions about snow days. To further comment that they feel the schools should have had a snow day on Monday is irrelevant. I feel that there should be no snow days at all. You are a supposed adult and if you feel that something as insignificant as the weather should prevent your children from receiving an education, then by all means keep them home. I have been to the school and I happen to know that classes are conducted inside a building in a controlled environment; heat, roof etc. The transition time between home and school is such a small part of the equation. I can’t speak for you, but I am not part of the forty seven percent and I had to go to work every day this week, drive thirty miles one way in whatever the weather conditions were this week. My employer doesn’t care about snow or ice; there is a job that needs to be done and I get paid to do it.
I would next like to address the supposed decision making process, 4:00am LOL. There isn’t a pair of boots long enough to wade through this pile of horse dung. When I asked my daughter what she had for home work Thursday night and see told me she was to wear her pajamas inside out and hung socks on the windows and a multitude of other non-sense things I knew the decision had already been made that there was going to be no school on Friday, regardless of whether we got fifteen feet of snow or fifteen millimeters. Subsequently the roads were no worse on Friday than they were on Thursday. But how ironic that there happens to be no school on Monday and Tuesday of next week; hmm, can you say five day weekend. Couple that with the two half days a couple of weeks before and a two week holiday break a couple of weeks before that. In the past two months the children have been out of school more than they have been in. If we always “error on the side of caution” the children would never go to school. God forbid, but there is always a possibility that the driver of a large truck will fall asleep behind the wheel of his truck or the brakes will fail on said truck and careen into one of the school buses. The list of possibilities is endless, but that doesn’t prevent the children from going to school any other day.
We live in Michigan, on the lake shore. We are going to get snow; live with it or move. If snow is going to be such a detriment to the status of school operations then maybe the school year should be rotated to having the children go through the months that don’t get any snow and having the three winter months off. As the original question expresses a need for more snow days I believe there should be less. I don’t feel that it should be the schools right to be making decision about my children’s education based on, again, something as insignificant as the weather. As adults that is our decision to make for our children. The last time I checked Michigan has never had a hurricane, but barring something like a tornado or other large storm causing damage and power failures there is no reason the children should not be in school Monday through Friday. I also know the teachers are allotted a certain number of days that they can be paid for “snow days”. I bet that if a policy of no work, no pay was adopted, there would be far fewer “snow days”.


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