The Students News Site of Francis Howell High School

FHHS Today

The Students News Site of Francis Howell High School

FHHS Today

The Students News Site of Francis Howell High School

FHHS Today

Snow days cause stress for Dr. Sloan

It’s late at night, the snow just keeps falling, roads are covered and car accidents are being reported.  Will there be school tomorrow? The snow just keeps coming and several more inches are predicted.  The list of school closings at the bottom of the TV screen continues to grow.  Fox, Franklin County, Gasconade, Wentzville…no Francis Howell…

A single person does not make calling off school, but ultimately Superintendent Dr. Pam Sloan makes the final decision.

“Safety is the reason we end up calling school off, do we have safe road conditions for the kids to get to school?” Dr. Sloan said.

She has many things to factor into calling a snow day.

“We would be looking at the weather, what time of day it is, the forecast, the road conditions, current temperature, and even looking at the forecast in terms of hours and not just days ahead too, so what does it look its going to be 2 hours or a hour so if it’s four o’clock in the afternoon, what does it look like it’s going to be tomorrow or if 10 o’clock at night what does it look like it’s going to be at 5 or 6 in the morning when the buses are getting ready to go. We have to take in consideration we have student drivers because every kid is not coming on a school bus, so we take in consideration we have young drivers out there on the road as well.” Sloan said.

Many people play parts into this decision ranging from Dr. Sloan to the staff at the First Student and spotters who drive the roads. Sloan takes input from all these people to make the decision regarding school the next day.

“We have our Director of Faculties, Rick Pavia. He works down in the Howell area of the district. He is out driving the roads in those conditions, checking the parking lots and schools are we going to be able to get the parking lots clean in order for the kids to get there and the buses on in time for school. Especially at Howell High School’s campus because they’re going in and out of the buildings….We have Mike Sloan who is the Director of Purchased Services and he works with transportation.  He’s in touch with our manager of First Student, Steve Jones. Are the buses going to be able to get started and get going?  He reports that he might have heard from bus drivers about the conditions at there as well. If it was early in the morning and there were drivers out on the road they might be reporting to him the different conditions they observe. So we have different people at different parts of the district that they’re driving in order to make the decision.”

All of that information is compiled via phone and then Dr. Sloan contacts the other Superintendents in St. Charles County.  It all has to be done early-very early.

“Really for secondary, that decision needs to be made by 5:30 a.m. because by that time you have people that are leaving to come to work like administrative assistants who might get there at 6:30 and so they may already be on the road.” Sloan said.

Ever wonder if the decision is made a little differently when the elementary schools are out on cycle break?  It does!

“If elementary is not in session and that’s just what happened: elementary was not in session [in December] and that really didn’t have any bearing on us. One of the things on our last situation was just how cold it was and so when we have really young kids who may not have the where with all to make a decision, ‘my bus didn’t show up and so I just continued to stand out here’. Those are the kinds of things you take into consideration. So that did have little bit of impact on our last decision. Knowing that we wouldn’t having elementary aged kids stand out in some really cold weather. That would be middle and high school and they would be able to raise their hand and say no one coming and I’m going inside it’s cold out here, where little kids might stand out there a little bit too long.” Sloan said

Finally, Vacation Station and preschool are other factors that weigh in on the decision.

“We also have during the school days Vacation Station at each of our ten sites. We also have our preschools are in session they’re also waiting word of if we are going to have school. So if we cancel school instead of having ten Vacation Station sites going, it gets reduced down to three. Then, we have full day preschool and continue to have that.“ Sloan said.

The next time snow is in the forecast, think about all of the people who are up early in the morning trying to decide whether or not to have class and be glad that the decision is in the hands of the superintendent.