Education Editorial: School and Weather Calls

As a superintendent, the bane of my experience was weather calls. What had been classified as "snow" calls was expanded to heat, flooding, hurricanes, and other forms of pestilence that might impact the opening, closing, or holding of school.

In Henrico and Chesterfield, snow in the west and north might be juxtaposed with clear skies and roads in the east and south. When the forecast was for snow, my hope was that a foot of the white stuff would cover the entire county early in the evening….so I could get the closing on the 11PM news. And as for forecasting, we had to see the white stuff before making a call.

Well times have changed!! Schools are not simply educational institutions; they are also the childcare providers, community calendars, transportation systems, and risk managers. Each segment of the school service area is anticipating that decisions will be made that will most benefit it.

Faculty and students want an unanticipated break, parents want to have their routine maintained, malls want young people, but not if they are just hanging out. The process that leads to these critical decisions is far from subjective.

Meteorologists, law enforcement, highway engineers, school and local government staff all analyze the available information and offer advice about a course of action…it can be definitive or "too close to call". In the end, the Superintendent must make the decision, engage the communication system, and accept the consequences for the results.

When our oldest son participated in a school exchange, a student asked, "Can your dad recognize snow when he sees it?" It would be great if leadership only required one sense!

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