FAIRBORN — When it comes to declaring a snow day, Fairborn City School District officials aim to make a decision as early as 5 a.m.
“Whenever this decision is made, it’s a subjective decision. In other words, it’s the best guess. There’s nothing objective to it,” Fairborn City Schools Superintendent Mark North said at the Jan. 11 school board meeting. “We’re trying to assess either the road conditions, the environment or … the facilities to be sure things are safe for children to attend school.”
When the weather conditions create the possibility of a snow day, school officials begin driving the roads within the district as early as 3 a.m. North pointed out that the road conditions just within the FCS district can greatly vary, creating a “unique” scenario.
“The road conditions and weather can be different in the northern part of the district than it is in the southern part of the district,” he said.
North highlighted in previous interviews that it’s not uncommon for superintendents in charge of neighboring districts to be in-touch with each other on snowy mornings. It’s “rare” that school officials make the call the night before as he said it is “difficult” to make the assessment, or guess, concerning the upcoming weather conditions by that point.
“I know this from experience — it’s more popular, convenient and makes people happier when the decision is made the night before, but we can’t make the best decision usually the night before,” North said. “Things change too much … I’ve been doing this aspect of the job for 25 years. I don’t mean to offend any weather forecaster, but I don’t put a lot of faith in their predictions. They’re not always accurate.”
In cases such as last week when the snow was predicted to fall later in the day, school officials are in touch with each other while keeping their eyes on weather forecasts. The snow began in the afternoon hours, as it was predicted, creating a scenario in which district officials called for a two-hour early dismissal to ensure that students arrived home safely.
“What I do try to do is be consistent and make that decision before 5 a.m. that way people can make adjustments for the day,” North said. “I would suggest that if you haven’t started doing that, start making those plans now because winter is going to be with us for awhile.”
When a snow day is called, parents expect to hear from the all-call system. They can also check the local television and radio stations as well as the FCS social media channels and website. FCS Spokesperson Pam Gayheart said FCS is granted five snow days per year. The district had used all five snow days days as of Jan. 16 creating the possibility for days to be made up if more snow days are called this winter season.
The district’s calendar committee is expected to meet next week to decide when those days will be made up if the need is to arise. The committee was scheduled to meet last week but was delayed due to weather. Gayheart highlighted that next year, the make-up days will be decided in advance.
“When the decision is made, it’s the best guess I can make at the time,” North said. “Bear with me and [let’s get to] April.”
Contact Whitney Vickers at 937-502-4532.