Thursday, January 9, 2014

Good To Be Back

Having spent a few days working in the office over the extended break, two things became very clear. 1. A lot of paperwork can be tackled when the building is nearly empty. 2. It is not nearly as fun to be at work when the building is empty. While I was able to plow through some back paperwork and complete a few unfinished projects, the days just seemed to be missing something. Then on the first day back it was obvious; KIDS and STAFF. The excitement that happens here every day is what makes this job rewarding. It isn't getting reports completed in a timely fashion (although this is a necessity of the job), it isn't preparing for Board Meetings, and it isn't PAPERWORK. In the end, it is the daily interactions with our students and those adults charged with providing an engaging educational environment. Every day, I am able to work with great kids and visit with people who truly love their job. Snow days are great every once in a while – but having four in a row after a long holiday break - makes it very easy to remember why we are all here in the first place. Have a great day.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Winter Closings.

I hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday break. Eventually, we will get back to school. As the end of the year approached, I began to wear-out the Accuweather App on my phone. It became obvious to me that a return to school was probably not going to happen on the 2nd. Looking ahead from there, the 3rd was going to be colder. In addition to Thursday and Friday, the forecast for Monday and Tuesday looked bitter and bleak. In the end, school was cancelled for several days. Canceling school is seldom a simple decision. Sometimes, like Monday with its -40 wind chills, it is a no-brainer. Other times, like Friday, the decision is less obvious because the morning weather and the mid morning weather vary so much that by 10 AM school could have easily been in session. Additionally, we like to give parents plenty of time to make plans for days out of school. We can't always cancel the night before, but when we can we will. The biggest concerns regarding closing school are transportation related. We don't have any walkers, but we do have a lot of bus riders. Most of these riders (240+) wait at open bus stops in the mornings. Then there is the bus ride itself. If a bus breaks down in low temperatures, the wait on the bus could vary from uncomfortable to dangerously cold. We have a safetyvplan in place that would have a assistance bus on the road within 5-10 minutes of receiving notification of an issue. In addition to those we transport, there are those students and staff that drive to school each day. Stranded individuals, especially novice drivers, aren't always prepared for being exposed to the weather while they wait for assistance. This group is also an area of concern when ice, snow pack, or drifting snow are on the road or approaching. Our decision to dismiss early is entirely dependent on weather updates and forecast models throughout the day. We also talk with other schools in the path of the ice or snow. During a school day, We are forced to make a decision two-three hours before we believe the storm will hit us. This window allows parents of younger students to make after school plans. It gives student drivers a chance to get home. It allows buses time to drop off students and get back to base. Additionally, we need to make sure our staff and bus drivers have a window to get home before the storm hits. As you can see, there are numerous concerns that we take into consideration before we close school. Our philosophy is simple - error on the side of student and staff safety. Looking ahead, if this winter is anything like our extreme summer, this won't be the last round of school closings. Have a great day and STAY WARM. - Mr. Curry

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