Superintendent’s Corner – Snow Day Anyone?
Are we having school Mrs. Pummell? I am asked this on regular basis lately. I have been offered many different bribes and fun things to cancel as well! My favorite has to be the high school student that offered to do our horse chores for an entire month! That was hard to pass up! Non-the-less, all of the Facebook questions, general conversations and comments that have come my way encouraged the topic and content of this communication.
How do I really make the “call/decision” to have a “snow-day?” For Clare Public Schools it is a team effort. If weather is the total reason for the “no” school day, chances are I have taken advice from Jim Parsons, Clare Transportation Supervisor. Jim is the person that drives the roads and determines safe or unsafe driving conditions for our busses. In addition, Jim talks with the heads of transportation in the surrounding school districts to get their expert opinions as well. I also talk with superintendents from the surrounding districts to discuss options too. I know that many of my fellow superintendents often drive the roads to assist their transportation leaders in the decision making process. Jim and I go back and forth on the phone to make our final decision. We not only consider the busses and the drivers, we also think about our teenage drivers and families when we make our decisions.
Once I know that we have a “No” School day. I use our Messenger calling system to inform all of our key leaders at the school. That call goes out by 4:30 AM. I then call our Pioneer Families and Staff. This call is set to start at 5:30 AM. This call contacts over 1800 phone numbers. It goes at this time as our first bus pick-ups start at 6:35 AM. This ensures that all of our families have plenty of time to prepare and make arrangements.
On a “no” school day, Central Office is open with a two hour delay. Other buildings in the district will also officially be on a two hour delay. Principals usually report unless they have taken a vacation or personal day. Secretaries in the buildings are not required to report.
The state gives schools 6 “forgiven” days prior to April 1st, and they need not be made up at the end of the school year. It is law that students attend at least 170 days and a total of 1098 hours per year. As of the writing of this article, Clare had logged 4 no school days. Schools can apply for 6 more days due to conditions out of their control – after April 1st. Last year the legislators passed an option, just for last year, that helped with the days and hours for last winter. Nothing is in place for this winter, yet.
Schools in the Clare-Gladwin RESD work together to create a “Common Calendar” Christmas Break, professional development days in December and February and Spring Break are the common items. Once in a while these common items may vary by a day or two. The state of Michigan also mandates that school starts after Labor Day. Finally, the State has a future mandate… Governor Snyder put into the School Aid Budget for 2013-14 that schools are must add 5 days of instruction for the 14-15 and 15-16 school years. Clare will go from 170 days to 175 days of instruction. This is a significant increase for students and for the district budget.
So, the next time your son or daughter wears his or her Pj’s inside out or you see a white crayon in the potty, just know that someone is wishing for a “Snow day” in your family!
Check the Clare Public Schools Website to watch a webcast/video on this topic.