Oh, the snow days of yesteryear

Howard students lament this year's lack of weather-related time off from school

January 31, 2007|By Melissa Fasteau | Melissa Fasteau,sun reporter

Where are the snow days?

While parts of Los Angeles County and Tucson, Ariz., have had snow this year, it has been virtually nonexistent in Howard County.

"I am really disappointed about not having any snow days," said Glenelg High School senior Megan O'Leary, "because not making up snow days was one of the things I was looking forward to about being a senior."

When school is closed because of snow, seniors don't have to make up those days at the end of the year because graduation dates (May 29-June 1) cannot be changed.

"I don't like it," said River Hill High School senior Courtney Teed about the absence of snow days. "I like to sleep late, hang out with friends and do other things. I've been pretty disappointed, but I still have some hope."

The last time students did not have a snow day during the school year was 2001-2002, according to Patti Caplan, school system spokeswoman.

Over the past 17 years, there have been an average of 4.3 snow days a year, according to Caplan. In the 1993-94 school year, the county recorded 11 snow days, the highest total in the past 20 years, she said.

There were two school days closed by snow during the last school year. Those days were added at the end of the year.

This year, the last day for scheduled students is June 14, but the county has "added six days to the end of the school year as inclement weather make-up days, if necessary," Caplan said.

Some area private schools had a two-hour delay Jan. 22; 0.19 inches of snow accumulated that day. Howard County public schools were not in session because of a professional work day. Caplan said, "One could speculate" that county schools "could have had a two-hour delay, as well."

Superintendent Sidney L. Cousin makes the decision to close schools based on a recommendation from Director of Student Transportation David C. Drown.

Drown gathers weather information from AccuWeather and the National Weather Service, calls other school systems and gets reports on road conditions.

"We send out our transportation supervisors [central staff members who work with the buses and the contractors]," Caplan said. "They go out and drive the roads as early as 3:30 in the morning. They also talk with the Howard County road crews and find out what their schedule is for plowing and if the roads will be passable by the time school would usually open."

Drown contacts Cousin by 5 a.m., and Cousin makes a school-closing decision and media outlets are notified.

The next time the weather report calls for measurable snow, Amy Ginsberg will be ready to do what she can to make it happen.

"I sit on my deck with ice cubes and put a spoon under my pillow, and then wear pajamas inside out and backward," said the Mount Hebron High senior. "I do it whenever I'm pretty sure there is a big snowstorm coming."

There's a reason Ginsberg goes to all the trouble. "Every time I actually do the snow-day thing, it actually works," she said.

But for now, she and other seniors will just have to wait.

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