Superintendent of Perry Township Schools
Temperatures last week ranged from 2 to 50 degrees. We received 2 inches of snow one day, and in two days our roads were clear and dry. As we’ve seen recently, winter weather has finally made its way to central Indiana.
During the winter months there are many times when people stop and ask me who makes the decision related to school delays and cancellations. They also want to know what factors are taken into consideration in making that decision. I will take some time in this column to answer those questions.
One of the most challenging decisions that I make as your superintendent of schools is determining if we are going to school on time, conducting a two-hour delay or canceling school due to weather conditions. The final decision rests on my shoulders.
I drive the roads and yes, at times find myself in a ditch calling someone to pull me out. I also have assistance from the leadership of our transportation and maintenance departments. They also drive the roads at the same time while covering various sections of Perry Township. It is important that I see firsthand our road conditions; it really helps that I live in the district. We are in constant communication with one another during our survey.
There are a lot of factors taken into consideration between 4 and 5 a.m., before any decisions are made. The temperature and wind chill numbers play a major role. Two below zero with no wind is much different than 3 above zero with 20 mile-per-hour winds. The forecast for the day also is given consideration.
The amount of snow on the ground also matters, as well as the time it fell. Four inches of snow at midnight with plows on the road is different than 3 inches of snow at 5 a.m. and three more forecasted during rush hour.
Ice is a factor that will close school faster than any other weather event. Needless to say, the timing of the ice storm and predicted temperatures through the day also play a part in our decisions.
Building and bus conditions also play a part. Typically, if we have extremely cold temperatures, our mechanics come in at 3 a.m. to warm up the diesel engines and fix any that might not start. Buildings are also checked through the night to ensure heat is achieving adequate temperatures and that there are no frozen pipes.
I also confer with other area superintendents to gain their perspectives. I realize that road and weather conditions vary among districts, which is the reasons for different decisions made depending on the district.
There is a great deal of time and energy put into this decision. All notifications are made through postings on our website, social media, text and voice mail.
The safety and security of your children, our staff and the Perry Township patrons is our first priority. It is a distinct honor to serve this community as its superintendent of schools.