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Weather-related school closures a tough call

Dr. Sylvester Perez1

February 24, 2014

Dear SAISD Staff,

Spring is around the corner, and, personally, I am looking forward to it. I am ready to leave behind the cold, icy weather that on a number of occasions required me to take on the tough deliberation of whether to close schools for the day.
While we had some dangerous road conditions this year, being Texas, we didn’t experience near the havoc that Mother Nature caused farther north, including in Atlanta and New York. You may have seen news coverage of the criticisms school officials in those cities faced for not closing schools. Today Show weatherman Al Roker even authored an angry tweet criticizing the New York mayor for keeping schools open.
I want you to know that the decision about whether to start school on time, start on a delay or close for the day is not one that is made lightly. Your safety and that of students is top of mind. Then, there are the parents: We don’t want to place undue burden on parents who may have to take a day off work to stay home with their children or try to find child care on short notice. It’s for these reasons that District staff and I closely monitor the weather, starting the night before. I consult with the superintendents of the largest Bexar County school districts. Together, we take the best information we have and finally make a decision. We have to let bus drivers and parents know with enough notice, so we try to make that decision by 4 a.m., when possible.  No matter what decision we make, we will be criticized by someone. I’ve learned that over the years. People may disagree with our call. Or they may think it came too late. But we deliberate as long as we possibly can because of the reasons stated above – safety and consideration for our parents.
Let’s hope we’ve seen the last of the inclement weather for the season. If another icy cold front should come our way, you now have a better understanding of the process we go through in determining whether to open our doors that day. And, I think that our Transportation Department, headed by Mike Daly, and our bus drivers need to be noted and applauded for safely delivering students to school on a regular basis, as well as on days when weather poses a challenge. A big thank you to the Transportation Department for all that they do.

Dr. Sylvester Perez



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