Winter is here and with it comes snow, ice and as a result, snow closure days and delays. During my first couple of winters here in Hillsboro, we’ve had twelve snow days each year. That’s a lot of days when you consider our students are scheduled to attend school 178 days a year. But when you have a district the size of Hillsboro (150 square miles), safety always rules for our bus riders and high school students who drive to school. It’s a tremendous responsibility.
Since its January, I thought I’d spend a little time discussing how we go about making these types of decisions. When we have snow or ice weather predictions, our transportation department goes into action early in the morning driving problem roads. These roads are typically narrow and/or involve hills or extreme curves. We also contact the numerous governmental entities for information on road treatment and snow removal. The Hillsboro City School District is comprised of seven townships and the city of Hillsboro. Some entities have manpower and equipment for snow clearance while others are limited. Once reports are received, I receive a recommendation on a course of action but ultimately it’s my call. At the same time, I am communicating with area superintendents from other districts as to what they are doing. Often times, they are dealing with the same wintry road conditions.
Since our buses leave the garage between 6:00 and 6:30, I try to make a decision by 5:30 a.m. That way our drivers can stay home if we’re cancelling. If the decision is cancel or delay, I quickly record a one call to students and parents and notify social media and email staff. In addition, I notify the Cincinnati radio and TV stations as well as our local radio stations. All in all, once a decision is made, I will text, email or call nearly 6,000 students, parents and staff all within minutes. Technology is certainly wonderful. By 6:00 a.m., we’re done.
The worst situations are like this morning. The roads are relatively clear, our buses hit the road and here comes an unexpected snow. Same is true for an early dismissal. We don’t want to send students out into the middle of a storm. Normally it’s best to wait until the storm passes. However, sometimes despite all of our contingency plans, mother nature does what she wants.
One other type of winter condition worth mentioning is extreme cold. Normally, we take a look at wind chill and try to avoid running school if the wind chill is in the minus teens. Interesting enough, a slight breeze will cause the wind chill to drop ten degrees. In addition, we monitor the latest temperature data/predictions and as with snow I’m in contact with other superintendents.
I would like to thank you for your support as we work through these tough winter decisions. But since the clock never stops, like many of you, I always look forward to spring! It will get here eventually.