Perplexing Precipitation

Perplexing Precipitation

Katherine Finnegan, Broadcast Journalism

Waking up on a cold winter morning and being told you have a snow day is some of the best news a highschooler can receive. A full day to ignore homework, and have fun in the fresh snow with your friends. While it may seem like an easy, care-free day, what really goes into calling a snow day? We talked to Madison’s Superintendent Mark Schwarz to find out just that.

Rileigh Baggett & Jenna Powers

Choosing whether or not to call a snow day is not as easy and care-free as the snow day may feel for students. School districts have to pick and choose when it is in their best interest, while also making it possible to reach the 180 day requirement. Schwarz explained the many details the school looks at when considering the possibility of a snow day. Districts will consider the conditions of the roads, the weather expectations for the rest of the day or even the days after, the amount of snow fall, and the possibilities of getting all the kids to and from school safely. They take into consideration the expected amount of snow, the temperatures of the past few days, road conditions, the people affected, the help available to make school possible, and if it is possible to ensure everyone’s safety.

According to Schwarz, he is constantly checking the weather in order to decide whether or not a snow day is the right call. Specifically, he pays attention to the expected snowfall and the temperatures of the past few days. If the past few days have been too warm for snow to stay frozen, the ground will still be too warm for snow even if temperatures drop overnight. That’s why snow doesn’t stick on the ground sometimes. The ground is just too warm and the snow melts. If only and inch or so of snow is expected, chances are the past warm temperatures will melt it, and there will be no need for a snowday. If the projection of snowfall increases however, it will be more difficult for the warmth of the ground to melt all of the snow, and a snow day becomes more likely.

The conditions of the roads plays a huge role in making a snow day decision. Everyone drives to and from school, and if roads are unsafe, it would be a bad idea to have everyone on the roads. Even if the snow doesn’t stick, roads could still be frozen or slippery, and be to dangerous to drive on. Safety is of the utmost importance to the school district, so they work very closely with the town in order to ensure safe road ways. Whether this means getting plows or salt to melt the snow and ice, Schwarz makes sure the roads are clear and safe before allowing students and faculty to drive to school.

Similarly, Schwarz works in close cooperation with Superintendent Matthew A. Spelker of Harding Township for the sake of MHS students living in Harding. Madison may have clearer, safer roads, but if Harding is unable to plow roads, or just has rougher conditions, Schwarz will factor this into his decision as well.

According to New Jersey state law, students are required to attend 180 school days. To accommodate these days, school districts take into consideration breaks, and possible snow days, when building their calender. Most school districts build in 3-5 snow days per year. This means that your school year may be about 183 or 185 days long to prepare for the possibility that one of the winter days may have significant snow. In the result that these days are not used up, you may get out of school a day early or even get time added onto a break. But what if winter is really harsh this year and your school uses up all your days and then some? The exact opposite. You might lose time from spring break, memorial day weekend, or even spend an extra day at the end of the year. 180 days is a requirement and it is crucial that districts meet these expectations.

The school district’s main goal is to ensure the safety of everyone, while also meeting the requirements of a school year. Every precaution is taken and thoroughly considered before a decision is made, and it is always in the best interest of the students and staff at MHS. Whether or not there are any snow days this year, we will all have to attend 180 days of school. So, if there aren’t snow days called, we can all be thankful for the week we may get off for memorial day.