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Clarkston Community School District

From Superintendent Ryan: Demystifying Snow Days

From Superintendent Ryan: Demystifying Snow Days

Dear Clarkston Community Schools Families,

I am writing to you today from inside a life-size snow globe, and can't help but wonder what Mother Nature will throw at us next! From a massive snowfall and record-breaking sub-zero temperatures to freezing rain, and now swiftly moving flurries...we just can't seem to catch a break. So before the next weather event, I thought I'd take a moment to demystify the greatest of all winter curiosities...the snow day!

In a school district of our size, the impact of weather like this can reverberate for days. Whereas you or I might be able to venture out with relative ease in a car, it's another story for a school bus. Snow or ice-covered roads and frequent stops present a major challenge!

Did you know that our Transportation Department transports 4,000 students, operates 48 school buses and 30 scheduled shuttles from building to building, and travels more than 4,000 miles each school day within our 58-square mile school boundary? We also have over 850 student drivers and their carpool friends descend on the high school each morning as well.

If there is serious doubt as to whether we can safely complete these routes, we will always err on the side of caution and close school. The decision is based not only on our Transportation Director's 4am assessment of district roads, but also up-to-the-minute reports from the Oakland County Road Commission and a meteorologist, who provides a forecast for the entire day. We also check in with our Operations team to ensure our buildings are in good working order and parking lots and campuses are cleared.

We do our best to make an informed decision by 5am if at all possible. Of course, it is our absolute hope that we will be able to run the school day as usual, so often times, we check and check again before making a final call.

When a decision is made to close school for the day, I could sing a song, but for the most part, I'll stick to tweeting it out. (Follow me on Twitter at @SPRyan1972). Then, I'll deploy our communications team to broadcast the closing on the TV news stations, on the district website and social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter), and by phone calls, emails, texts. We will make a call on afternoon and evening activities by noon of that day, since sometimes conditions improve drastically throughout the course of the day.

We can't say for certain that there won't be any more school closings due to weather, and therefore, can't speculate on what this means for the school calendar. We have exceeded the six days allowed by state law, as well as the three additional days that may be waived. We are hoping for some flexibility from Governor Whitmer, given last week's statewide weather emergency, but need to be prepared for the possibility of an extended school year. We will let you know of any changes to the school year calendar as soon as possible in order to allow you to plan accordingly.

In the meantime, I want to thank each one of you for your patience and grace over these past several weeks. Though these weather events are out of our control, we do have control in the way we respond to them, and I promise I will always make decisions that support a safe, and positive learning environment for our students and staff.

Have a great weekend!


Shawn Ryan
Superintendent of Schools

About Clarkston Community Schools: Clarkston is a highly regarded school district with an enrollment of more than 7,500 students. We have seven elementary schools (K-5), one middle school serving grades 6-7, one junior high for grades 8-9, and Clarkston High School, which serves students in grades 10-12. We also have an Early Childhood Center serving children ages 3-5, and an alternative high school/community education facility. Each Clarkston Community Schools' student is fully engaged in a globally focused education, from preschool through graduation, that fosters in students a sense of self, perspective, responsibility/ownership, and contribution. The mission of Clarkston Community Schools is to cultivate thinkers, learners and positive contributors to a global society.

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Media Contact: Mary Ellen Rowe, Marketing Director (248) 623-5460.