Superintendent’s Blog – 12/19/2017

Snow Days, Survey Overview, and Bullying

How do you decide snow day calls? This question is one of the top ten I get when people learn that I am a superintendent in New England. Since we are certainly in that part of the year, I thought I would share with you how I go about making decisions regarding snow days. Beginning in early November, I follow the weather at the National Weather Service. (Actually, follow may be a bit of an understatement, my family would tell you I obsess, to which I would respond, no, I just meticulously review the forecast daily, okay . . .okay sometimes two or three times a day, after all. this is New England!).

As a storm event develops, I watch for changes and look at the times that the storm is likely to occur and how long it might last. As the storm grows closer, I may consult with a number of other people; including the bus company, road agents, other local school systems, and depending on the anticipated severity of the storm, the State DOT.   I aim to give parents the most notice I can because, as a parent, I understand the notice needed to make childcare arrangements and the inconvenience of having routines and schedules interrupted. Sometimes with the forecast and information that I have, I can make the call the night before and sometimes the storm pattern changes so many times I have to wait to see what is going to happen.   Those are generally the steps I take when I make a decision, but my thought process is entirely about student safety. I know that hundreds of teenage drivers are going to be driving to school and thousands of children are going to be boarding buses, and this thought is always at the center of my decision.

Calendar Survey

Thank you to all who responded to the calendar questions in my last post. It was great to read through and think about the thoughtful comments regarding our school year. While most people let me know that generally they are happy with the calendar, there were areas on which people generally commented.

Specifically, many people wanted to keep the week at Thanksgiving while others thought students should go Monday and Tuesday. There were those who felt that a longer break over the Christmas and New Year holidays was preferential, while others shared with me the difficulty of having long breaks with no childcare options. Many offered alternatives around February and/or April, some suggesting four-day weekends instead of week-long vacations. Both ends of the school year were commented on, some asking to start after Labor Day, while other wanted to start earlier in August.

In order to get feedback from the entire community, I condensed many of the comments into questions that I am asking all parents and staff to respond to, just click here. I will share these results in my next post, and I will use them to design our 2018-2019 school calendar.

On a final note, there were many comments about the start time of school for middle and high school students—both for changing it, and those who expressed concerns about flipping the elementary and middle/high school start times. I will be looking for feedback on start and end times in the very near future, so please stay tuned!


Finally, I need to discuss the very serious topic of bullying. Recently, one of our schools had a pretty serious incident of bullying. The comments, situations, and notes that were shared with me were simply heartbreaking, and as is often the case the victim had not spoken to an adult. At our schools, we are looking carefully at what we can do to better educate our staff and our students.

As this is a time of year that as a culture we try to exemplify warm tidings and good will, please speak to your children about bullying and the potential impacts, while we consistently run programs at schools, nothing replaces the conversation and influence of parents. If you are looking for information about bullying you can click here, if you need to find a way to start a conversation with your child please click here.

There are a number of excellent books to help us understand relational aggression and bullying, lists of these books can be found at this link. If you believe that your child may be the victim of bullying, please let the building principal know right away. If you believe your child may be involved in bullying and are unsure how to speak with him or her, please reach out so we can help. Every child should feel physically and emotionally safe at school, please help us make this happen.

My very best for a wonderful holiday, may the peace of the season be with you and your family.