|February 13, 2015
Dear Parents and Families of M.S.A.D. No.75:
We have experienced several winter storms … with the possibility of more to come! Now is a good time to review with you how decisions about school closures are made. It is always our intent to err on the side of safety of our students and staff. To date, we have canceled school four times this year, and used a late-start twice. Admittedly, in two of those instances, what we anticipated would happen with the weather was different than what actually occurred as the day progressed.
Deciding whether school should be in session or canceled, as a result of weather-related issues, is not an exact science. Rather, it is combined efforts of several people engaged in making their best assessment of weather conditions to determine whether conditions warrant closing or opening schools that day. You may not realize it, but because of our proximity and the shared Region Ten Vocational Center, M.S.A.D. No. 75 makes these decisions in collaboration with Brunswick School Department and RSU 5 (Freeport, Pownal and Durham).
These decisions begin late at night as superintendents and transportation supervisors check the latest forecast. Based upon weather forecasts, our transportation supervisor will get up at 4:00 a.m. and check weather reports on TV and internet, including weather radar. If concerned, he will call the Town Road Commissioner(s) or the Sheriff’s Department. He also will drive around certain areas to help him in making his recommendation. If things look unsafe, he will contact me by 4:45 a.m.
He shares any information about conditions that may make school closure/delay necessary. These are difficult decisions to make since weather and road conditions can vary from Bowdoin and Bowdoinham down to Harpswell. In addition, these decisions are compounded by the fact that it is still dark outside. The three area superintendents confer via telephone and reach agreement to proceed with one decision, or vary the decision from district to district. Typically, however, we reach common agreement. I also communicate with the Superintendent of RSU 1 in Bath. Once made, the decision is then shared with transportation supervisors; and I activate the automated telephone messaging system to share the information with each student and staff residence telephone number. Local media are then notified as well. This information is also posted on the District’s website. All of this must be completed by 5:30-5:45 a.m.
Please keep in mind that weather conditions and forecasts can change significantly from early morning to afternoon. Our decision to cancel or open schools also depends upon the ability to safely transport students home at the end of the day!
If school is in session and you are concerned about sending your children to school that day, given weather conditions in your area of town, please do keep them at home. When they return to school they will be given time to complete any school work that they may have missed, without penalty.
Again, generally, the announcement of whether school has been canceled or the opening of school has been delayed, will be announced via the phone messaging system, and on local radio and television stations, no later than 5:30-6:00 a.m., depending on when the storm arrives. The safety of students and staff is our greatest concern.
Bradley V. Smith
Superintendent of Schools
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