Winter (and in some cases, even late fall and early spring) brings the potential for inclement weather that could affect our school schedule, and the decision to delay or close school is never easy. So how do we decide whether we are going to close or delay school in St. Francis Area Schools?
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. Superintendent Troy Ferguson consults with our transportation department, maintenance department and other district administrators. In addition, Ferguson is 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 very dangerous and we take it very seriously while making the decision to close or delay. 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 send the Campus Messenger call/email 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 leaving the bus garage at 5:30 a.m. In addition to Campus Messenger, we contact local TV and radio stations, post the information on our district website at www.isd15.org and on our social media outlets. 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.