School district policy for weather-related cancellations reviewed

Friday, January 11, 2002

Since we are into the month of January, I thought that it might be good to once again review our policies for calling off school in case we should have inclement weather during the next month or so.

Of course we would prefer to have school every day, because when we cancel classes we often create a hardship for parents who might have to take off work, find babysitters, etc. We are also required to make up any days that we miss, so it is normally better for everyone involved if we can stay on schedule and not miss any days.

However, there are days where heavy snow, ice, or extremely cold temperatures could seriously impact the safety of our students and staff members and when this happens, we will cancel school.

If we decide to cancel school on any particular day, we will try to make the decision no later than 6 a.m. on that morning. We will broadcast school closing information on the two Marshall radio stations, KMMO 102.9 FM and 1300 AM and KRLI 97.5 FM. The people at these stations have been very cooperative in the past and I know that they will get the information on the air quickly and will broadcast it often during the early morning hours. These will also always be the first stations that we will notify.

Please don't call the radio station or school administrators. Stay tuned to the radio, as they will know immediately after we make a decision and you should hear the information within a matter of minutes. We will also broadcast the information on two regional radio stations which include KMZU 100.7 (Carrollton) and KRES 104.7 FM (Moberly), and they have also been good at relaying our closing information.

We will also list our school closing information on different television stations, both in the central Missouri and Kansas City areas. The central Missouri stations include KOMU TV 8 (Channel 8 on Marshall Cable); KMIZ TV 17 (Channel 11 on Marshall Cable); and KRCG TV 13 (Channel 13 on Marshall Cable). The Kansas City television stations that we will list our school closing information with include Fox 4 (Channel 4 on Marshall Cable); KCTV 5 (Channel 5 on Marshall Cable); and KMBC TV 9 (Channel 9 on Marshall Cable).

We will give our information to all of these television stations and they will usually broadcast it. However, it normally takes the television stations a little longer to get the information on the air, and so to get the needed information as quickly as possible, I would suggest that you listen to one of the local radio stations first.

There could also be some days where the weather will get bad as the day goes on, which will make it necessary to dismiss school early. If we should decide to dismiss early, we will broadcast that information on the same stations that we listed above.

Sometimes we find that once kids get to school, it is often better to keep them there all day in order to give the highway and road crews more time to blade and sand the roads, before the students head home. We also know that early dismissal can cause problems, especially for working parents. However, on some days as weather conditions continue to deteriorate during the day, we might find that it would be best to get kids home as quickly as possible.

Whatever the case, we will certainly try to use our best judgement when making a decision.

In my years as a superintendent, I have often been told by parents that it would certainly be easier and more convenient for them if we could make the decision to cancel school on the night before. I realize that this would be easier for many parents who leave very early in the morning for work and have to make arrangements for their kids if we don't have school.

There will be times when the weather could be extremely bad during the evening hours and we will know that it will be impossible to go to school on the next day. In this case, we will go ahead and cancel the night before and notify the radio and TV stations as soon as possible. However, in most cases we prefer to wait until the early morning hours to make the decision so we can see what the actual weather conditions will be at that time. As I mentioned earlier, we want to go to school if we can.

I might suggest that on nights when the weather has the potential for getting bad and closing school appears to be a strong possibility, parents might make tentative arrangements for a babysitter or a place for the child to go the next day, should school be cancelled. This might ease some of the pressure of parents having to scramble and make arrangements during the early hours of the morning.

I know that not everyone will always agree with our decision of whether or not to cancel school, but we will try to use our best judgement and try to base the decision on what is best for our kids.

Filing for three school board seats

Filing for the Marshall Board of Education will end Tuesday, Jan. 15. The current terms of Ed Kays, Phil Perkins, and Raymond Thompson will expire in April. People who wish to file for the board may do so on any weekday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at the District Administrative Center, at the corner of Miami and Vest. The office will be open for filing until 5 p.m. on Jan. 15 only. As of the printing of this article Ed Kays, David Kemm, Bob Stewart, Michael "Ernie" Hammer and Anthony W. Gossett have filed.