OXFORD– Denise Schares gets a lot of questions.
As the superintendent of the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) school district, she is frequently approached by students, parents, faculty and staff. Of all the questions she addresses, however, one stands out as the most frequently asked.
“How do you decide to call a snow day?”
It’s not an easy decision, with potential ramifications either way, and regardless of the final call, somebody won’t be happy with it.
“I tell them, if they want to drive with me at 4 a.m., they can ride along to make the call,” Schares said with a smile during the Oct. 19 work session in Oxford as she explained her decision-making process to the CCA School Board of Directors. In addition to driving around the district for a first-hand look at weather and road conditions, Dr. Schares also consults with neighboring districts.
“We try to make the decision as soon as possible,” she said. CCA will try to hold school, if possible, as it provides a safe place for the students to be, she said. But, there is the risk of conditions worsening, creating hazards and hardships all their own. “We try to be very thoughtful.”
If a school day is completely cancelled, it must be made up. An early-dismissal day does not. Currently all school districts in Iowa must complete 180 calendar days of classroom instruction. A proposed change would go from calendar days to contact hours, 1,080 to be exact.
“If we go to instructional hours, we will have to make-up hours lost,” Schares said.
The district has posted detailed information on cancellations and notification methods on its website at http://www.cca.k12.ia.us/Admin/weather.html.