BRITT | Frigid temperatures, wind and snow have resulted in one two-hour delay and two cancellations for the West Hancock School District so far this winter and more are likely.
But the decision to make those calls aren't always “clear-cut,” Superintendent Wayne Kronemann said.
“Last night, there was a bunch of snow on the ground. It was going to be windy and it was going to be cold. That was kind of a no-brainer to have a two-hour delay and to cancel,” he said.
After the school board’s meeting Monday, Jan. 15 — the evening of a snow day — Kronemann requested the school board's feedback on postponing or canceling school due to below-zero temperatures.
“Are you hearing complaints from anybody about us running the buses or kids standing out in the school or walking to school?” he said.
Several school board members acknowledged there may be some public concern if their children are riding the bus and it breaks down due to the cold or children aren’t dressed appropriately for the weather if school is held on days with below-zero temperatures.
“You still have to protect the ones who aren’t using their head in order for everybody to be safe,” said Angie Johnson, school board member.
Kronemann said the district doesn’t have a policy that dictates when school is delayed or canceled due to the temperature, but superintendents agreed a couple years ago that 35 to 40 degrees below zero was a good cutoff.
To make the decision, he consults the Weather Channel, National Weather Service, area superintendents and Transportation Director Stacey Goepel.
Kronemann said the decision is made as soon as possible to accommodate families’ schedules but not too early that the forecast changes. If the decision’s made in the morning, it has to be done by 6:15 a.m., so buses aren’t dispatched.
“If everybody around us is going two hours late, I’ll go two hours late, but if it’s only a smattering, Stacey and I’ll converse at 4 o’clock or 5 o’clock in the morning,” he said.
Kronemann said, via email Wednesday, Jan. 17, his top priority in making the decision is student safety.
The last day of school for West Hancock students is May 23, but if there are more than five cancellations, the school year could extend as late as June 1, according to the 2017-2018 calendar.
“(It’s a) pretty low number so far,” he said.