Behind the scenes of calamity days

Emily Cassidy

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When there is a possibility for a calamity day, the all-powerful Dave Knight, Superintendent for the Medina City School District, has to do his fair share of research.

“First of all, we always think of students safety,” Knight said, “when it’s not suitable to have students, or staff in the building, or on the way to the building [a calamity day is necessary].”

“We take student drivers into consideration , sometimes it’s a little scary,” said Knight. His main concern is student safety, so considering new drivers that may not know how to handle driving in bad conditions, is an important factor.

Another factor to keep in consideration is the financial sacrifice that is being made each time Knight calls for a calamity day.

“It’s a huge financial decision,” Knight said. After everything that is considered, such as electrical costs, salaries, and other things needed in a regular school day, each school day costs about $450,000 to run, district-wide. To call a calamity day would mean that this $450,000 is still being paid out, even though there is no school.

When a calamity day is possible, the superintendents of Medina County begin communicating via text message between 4:30 a.m. and 4:40 a.m. to decide if it is necessary to close the schools. Knight says if possible, he aims to make the call no later than 5:15 a.m.

To actually evaluate whether there will be a calamity day or not, Knight looks to the city.

“We have a close-working relationship with the city,” said Knight, “We talk to our transportation and have several people out there checking the roads, [we ask] ‘what are the road crews seeing?’”

Generally, snow is not a factor for closing school. As long as road conditions are good, a calamity day would not be necessary even with snowfall of four or more inches. Closing school depends mostly on road conditions, air temperature and wind chill.

As a general guide, air temperature 20 degrees below zero would probably cause school to be canceled. If air temperature is between 11 and 19 degrees below zero, whether or not school will be canceled depends on wind chill, road conditions, and current weather conditions. But, if air temperature is above 10 degrees below zero, school will most likely not be canceled.

As far as two-hour delays, Medina has never seen one. Knight says this is because of the size of our district, and the complications it would cause.

“It inconveniences parents,” Knight said, “we may use a two hour delay if we had used up our five calamity days.”