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School Cancellation Q&A with Superintendent Dufoe

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Have you ever wondered why or why not we’ve canceled school because of weather or other conditions?  In light of Monday’s early out, Black and Register thought you might like to know why it happened. I interviewed Superintendent Greg Dufoe to answer all your questions when it comes to snow days, early outs and delays.
How cold does it have to be for a cancelation to occur?
ADM doesn’t have an actual policy concerning closing temperature, unlike Johnston School Districts, we don’t cut it off at 25 below. According to Dufoe, “Our practice is to look at that–if there’s a wind chill warning, we look to delay.” Although he notes that a cancelation is possible at 30 below or colder, but at 25 below, ADM chooses to delay.
What weather conditions might cause us to cancel school?
“In the winter weather, it’s usually snow and ice…anything that impacts driving,” Dufoe said.  We have experienced early outs and even longer school days due to wind and tornado warnings.  In recent years, the only cancelation we’ve had that wasn’t the result of snow and ice was the bomb threat from earlier this school year.
What are the steps taken before a delay or cancelation?  How many people are involved in the decision?
Dufoe and Transportation Director Richard Beechum coordinate with each other before delays and cancelations due to bad weather.  In fact, on days of potentially bad weather both of them are typically up at 4:00 A.M.  You could say that the days students get to sleep in are the ones where our administration gets up the earliest.  “[Mr. Beechum] is out driving the roads, I may drive the roads, but less than he does.  I’ll be at home, studying the weather, listening to the forecast, then getting information from him…Typically we want to make a decision about a late start or cancelation by 6 A.M.”
What are the steps taken before we initiate an early out due to weather? How many people are involved in the decision?
“An early release because of weather is kind of the same process, it’s just during the day, and we decide if we think we need to let out to get out ahead of the storm,” Dufoe said.  Like Monday, the goal was to release kids in order to beat the storm, which is why when we are in the midst of one, we choose to hold kids.
Do other schools choosing to delay/cancel influence the decision?
“Other superintendents are usually trying to make the same decision…I am certainly influenced by and seek the input of other superintendents.  Especially the ones that are close. I’m frequently or typically communicating with the Van Meter Superintendent, the Winterset Superintendent, Earlham, Dallas Center-Grimes, Perry, you know, those districts that are pretty close and would have similar weather conditions. So we kind of study or compare what each of us are seeing. It’s helpful when everyone is on the same page, helps you feel like you made the right decision.”
How do you know that the weather might turn?  Is it part of the superintendent’s job to check the forecast every day?
“Let’s take the scenario of a late start, usually that would mean that I’m aware that the weather might be problematic the night before,” Dufoe said, “It sure is [part of my job].”  He notes that he is almost always aware of the weather and has a crazy early alarm set in order to deal with it.
Dufoe says that he’s been treated well at ADM, “I know a lot of superintendents get a lot of criticism for times when you do [cancel] and people think you shouldn’t have, or we don’t cancel and people think we should’ve.  People have been very good about that here, and you know, focusing on whats best for students and staff who have to travel.  That’s the purpose of that decision, keeping students and staff safe.”
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2 Comments

2 Responses to “School Cancellation Q&A with Superintendent Dufoe”

  1. Jacob Derifield on February 22nd, 2018 10:42 am

    I completely agree with Mr. Dufoe as I truly believe that if I were in his position, my first priority is to protect others and their education. I would not want anyone to be affected negatively by bad weather.

    [Reply]

  2. Ian Talbert on February 22nd, 2018 12:50 pm

    I never knew how ADM decided an early out or canceling. I feel as if there has been descrepency in how it’s been done in the past and now, what has changed in the past years?

    [Reply]

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School Cancellation Q&A with Superintendent Dufoe