Archive for Thursday, November 30, 2006

Safety main concern when canceling school

Weather, roads, forecast taken into consideration

November 30, 2006


Is school canceled? That's what parents and children want to know when winter weather strikes.

That decision is made by Lawrence school district Superintendent Randy Weseman and Rick Gammill, director of special operations.

Gammill said the decision is based on current weather, road conditions and the forecast. He said they take a recommendation from the district's facilities and operations staff, who check parking lots and streets surrounding the schools. The district's school bus provider also weighs in.

"We actually go out and drive the roads to determine whether or not we believe it's safe to have school," Gammill said.

He said the district's goal is to notify the public as soon as possible.

"When a decision can be made the preceding day or the preceding night, the district attempts to make an announcement, certainly, by 10 p.m.," Gammill said. "In a lot of cases, it won't be made until the morning. But our goal would be, if it were in the morning, by 6 a.m."

Cancellation or early dismissal announcements are available on the school district's Web site at They also can be found here online at the Journal-World's Web site,

Gammill said most nonpublic schools, such as Bishop Seabury Academy and Veritas Christian School, call the Lawrence school district for advice. He said they tend to follow the district's lead when it comes to deciding whether to cancel classes.

If Lawrence public schools remain open, parents can opt to keep their children home, he said. They also can pick up their children early. Parents also can have a high school student leave school early to avoid bad road conditions.

The district's 2006-07 calendar allows two snow days, said Sandee Crowther, executive director of planning and program improvement and chairwoman of the district's calendar committee.

If a school district has scheduled a snow day on its calendar to make up a day missed for inclement weather, Kansas Department of Education regulations allows that day to be counted as up to two snow days taken by the district, Crowther said. She said the district has scheduled April 20 as the makeup day for two snow days.

If Lawrence's school district uses more than two snow days, the calendar committee will meet and take a recommendation to the school board to make up the time, Crowther said.

"We can add time at the end, we can take away something that we had, that's up to the board," Crowther said. "Last year we had two (snow days)."

Lawrence's school board also has a policy for the calendar to be built on 175 instructional days, she said.

Within that framework, the district has to make sure it adds up to at least 1,116 hours, which is the state minimum time for instructional hours in a year, she said.


Katie Van Blaricum 8 years, 12 months ago

so whats up with them not making the decision until like, 7 this morning??

Stephen Roberts 8 years, 12 months ago

Funny, Veritas and Bishop Seabury follow the districts lead but Veritas cancels school hours before the district.

I know Rick and think he is a good guy and errors on the side of caution. He would have been out there early this morning driving the roads.

Maybe the cancelled school later becasue Rick couldn't get cell phone coverage or he couldn't wake up weseman.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 12 months ago

No matter it was a good decision to keep more cars and buses off the roads.

Going into KC at 5:45AM was a slow boat to china. Plenty of vehicles sitting off the road. Saw a sporty vehicle on 435E spin around crossing 3 lanes and off the road. Lucky drivers were moving slower and aware which prevented what could have been a major pile up.

guppypunkhead 8 years, 12 months ago

ku should have cancelled today. but no, here i am still on campus, the snow still piling up. driving in an hour will be fun!

Harry_Manback 8 years, 12 months ago

"I think it is irresponsible for people to be out driving in weather like this, unless they absolutely have to!

Really, it is not worth putting your life on the line!"

Well, apparently KU didn't get that memo.

laughingatallofu 8 years, 12 months ago

When I was a young pup, I had to walk to school 3 miles UPHILL each way with little more than a hot potato in my left pocket, of which I ate half for lunch, then sat on the other half to keep it warm for the long walk (UPHILL again, remember) back.

Katara 8 years, 12 months ago

Did you have an onion on your belt, laughingatallofu?

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