BENNINGTON >> Winter weather has been scarce so far, but with temperatures dropping, parents should familiarize themselves with their schools' snow day and early dismissal policies.
For the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union, the decision to close school is typically made between 4:30 a.m. and 5:30 a.m., by Superintendent Jim Culkeen, and is posted on the SU's website, Twitter, and Facebook pages, as well as on the New England Cable News website, WRGB CBS 6, Albany, WTEN ABC 10, Albany, and WNYT NBC 13, Albany.
The SU also has an email alert system, which can be signed up for at its website, www.svsu.org, to let parents know about weather related closings and other emergencies.
In the event of an early dismissal, there is a set schedule in place for when bus pick-up will occur at each school within the SVSU. Pick-up at Mount Anthony Union High School will take place at 11 a.m., followed by MAU Middle School at 11:10 a.m. OnPoint Elementary and Woodford Elementary pickup will also be at 11 a.m. Pownal and Shaftsbury Elementary will have dismissal at 12:00 p.m., and the Bennington Elementary Schools — Molly Stark, Monument, and Bennington Elementary, will round out the process at 12:30 p.m. The Early Childhood Program at Molly Stark will be closed on early dismissal days.
In the Hoosick Falls Central School District, (N.Y.) Transportation Supervisor, Joe Steller, on days when winter storms are expected, gets up at 4:00 a.m. to travel to the highest elevations in the district. He communicates with area highway departments to get the latest reports on road conditions before calling Superintendent Ken Facin at 4:45 a.m. The two discuss the situation and come to a decision whether or not to close school.
Hoosick Falls Central uses an all-call system to alert parents and staff by telephone in the event of closings or delays. Brian Bushner, HFCSD community information officer, said that communications, between the bus drivers, county, town, and village road crews, and school administrators, is the key to getting kids safely to and from school in hazardous weather situations. "Mr. Steller talks to the road crews to see where the bad areas are so we can plan how to get the kids home safely," he said, "If we have a delay or are leaving early, notification is given to the county, town, and village crews so they know when we will have buses on the road. This communication helps them to clear the bus routes ahead of early dismissals or ahead of a delayed opening."
The Hoosick Falls buses are maintained by primary washer Ed Wright and mechanic Harold Hoffman, to make sure they are in prime condition for days where students need to be transported through winter weather. Hoffman every year winterizes the buses, putting on new wipers, snow tires, topping off washer fluid, and seeing to other winter needs.
"I'm so very proud of how the transportation team works together during challenging weather conditions," said Steller, "This team always puts student safety as their priority, no matter what the weather."