Snowstorms Mean Big Decisions for Mass. Schools - NECN

Snowstorms Mean Big Decisions for Mass. Schools



    Superintendents say it's difficult to decide sometimes whether forecasts will warrant delaying, dismissing or closing school (Published Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014)

    (NECN: Alysha Palumbo, Medway and Mendon, Mass.) - Often before the first snowflakes start falling, school superintendents have to make the difficult decision of whether the forecasted conditions will warrant delaying, dismissing or closing school for the day.

     "I think snow days are kind of the bane of a superintendent's existence," said Dr. Judith Evans, the superintendent of Medway Public Schools.
    She says there's a lengthy process for making a school closure decision that starts with calling the department of public services and checking on a timetable for clearing streets, lots and sidewalks.
    "We call the bus company to be sure the buses can be available and the transportation is safe, we talk to the police department, we talk to other superintendents to see what they're doing and we try to make the best call we can to keep students safe," Dr. Evans said.
    "It's one of those situations where you're kind of darned if you do, darned if you don't," said Mendon-Upton Regional School District Superintendent Dr. Joseph Maruszczak says he knows with either decision some parents, students or staff will be pleased while others will be upset.
    "The concern is what's the magnitude of this nor'easter and exactly what's the timing of it going to be," Dr. Maruszczak said.
    Both superintendents admit with the ability to cancel school through e-mail, phone calls and social media, there's increasing pressure on superintendents to make the call to cancel quickly, oftentimes the night before a storm hits.
    "But the problem with that is sometimes the forecast changes and so we prefer to make the call in the morning when possible," Dr. Evans said.

    Dr. Evans says she's started sending an e-mail home to parents letting them know if she plans to make a decision at night or in the morning, so they know what to expect.

    Schools in Massachusetts have a mandated 180 day minimum, and the school year cannot go beyond June 30.

    Superintendents say while they obviously have to keep that in mind while making a school closure decision, safety trumps all else.