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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,

From snowflakes (or was that rain?) falling from the sky yesterday, to this morning's bright sun and now a heavy canopy of clouds outside my window, it's no understatement to say that Michigan winters can be unpredictable! With that in mind, I thought it might be a good time to take a moment to walk you through the greatest of all Michigan winter curiosities...the snow day!

A snow day begins and ends with one question: can students be safely transported to school? In a school district of our size, the impact of severe weather 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? In addition, more than 850 relatively inexperienced student drivers from across the district make their way to the high school each morning.

If there is serious doubt as to whether we can safely complete our bus 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, and 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.

Though winter 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.


Shawn Ryan
Superintendent of Schools

About Clarkston Community Schools: Clarkston is a highly regarded school district with an enrollment of nearly 7,100 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. Clarkston Community Schools students are well-prepared for a future that excites them, and believe that they can achieve their dreams. The mission of Clarkston Community Schools is to create a learning environment where students, staff, and families are challenged, healthy, engaged, safe, and supported.

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