This message is from Superintendent Troy Ferguson, St. Francis Area Schools
We knew it was inevitable and it appears the real winter weather is upon us. For the next week or so, it looks like we could be in for some very cold and possibly snowy weather. I'd like to take this opportunity to remind students, parents and staff of the protocols we use in St. Francis Area Schools for inclement weather closings or delays.
Our priority is to ensure the safety of our students and staff while maintaining the integrity of the school day. The decision to close or delay school ultimately is the superintendent's. I consult with our transportation department, maintenance department and other district administrators. In addition, I am in contact with neighboring school district superintendents to get a sense of the information they have and what they are considering. In the end, not all neighboring districts necessarily reach the same decision; each of us has to determine the best course of action for our own district. We consider several factors when making decisions affecting the school day.
What are current road conditions and to what degree are we confident of their condition throughout the day?
This is particularly important in St. Francis Area Schools because the majority of our students and virtually all of our staff ride the bus or drive to school. This is different from some of our neighboring districts who have much higher numbers of students who walk to school.
What is the current and predicted weather?
Weather is often difficult to predict long term and with a high degree of confidence. Extreme cold and wind are dangerous and we take it very seriously while making the decision to close or delay school. Guidelines that are commonly accepted as dangerous include sustained air temperature of 25 degrees or more below zero or, even more dangerous, sustained wind chills of 40 degrees or more below zero. Though most of our students do not walk to school, a great number of them wait outside for their bus to arrive and even short term exposure to those conditions can be dangerous. Though rare, it is possible that we close school due to extreme cold without any snow or sleet.
Our goal is to hold school each scheduled day, if at all possible.
We are concerned with maintaining the integrity of the school day without disrupting the learning of our students and inconveniencing parents. In addition, we want to avoid potential make-up days at the end of the school year. When possible, we will make a decision the night before and launch a message through Campus Messenger (call/email/text) to families and staff by 10:00 p.m. In most cases though, a decision won't be made until the morning. We make every effort to notify families and staff by 5:00 a.m. We have a very short window of time due to many of our secondary routes leave the bus garage at 5:30 a.m. and some staff report to work very early.
In addition to Campus Messenger, we contact local TV and radio stations, and post the information on our district website at www.isd15.org and on the district's social media accounts. There will be no announcements if schools are open as scheduled.
Ultimately the decision to send your child to school is yours as a parent. If we hold school and you are uncomfortable sending your child to school due to weather conditions, please verify your child's absence, and we will count the absence as excused.