Written by Transportation Manager Bill Samborski
There is an established and well-defined procedure for assessing severe weather conditions and making the decision if school will be closed or kept open. That process includes use of a Meteorologist who supplies data specific to the Janesville area. Information is collected from city and county agencies involved in travel safety as well as from the school bus company. Additional conditions such as power outages, debris blocking roads, facility problems, etc. is also considered. The decision on school being open or closed is made after collaboration on all of these factors.
At 4:30am on Dec. 20, 2012 the Meteorologist’s forecast called for above freezing temperatures until 5:00pm that day. Rain was expected to turn into drifting snow late in the day, but not present a travel problem until after 5:00pm. As the day unfolded, temperatures held close to the 4:30am forecast until 1:30pm. At that time a drop to near freezing conditions occurred and the rain turned to snow 3 hours sooner than expected. Normal school dismissal times are around 3:30pm.
1. The current severe weather risk assessment process is solid and well thought out.
2. The ultimate responsibility for student attendance at school in severe weather rests with parents.
3. The conditions that occurred in the weather event of 12/20/12 are rare and not likely to repeat often.
4. Safety of students is always a very high priority in decision-making, and was so in this case.