Steamboat school closure alerts discussed

Some parents were not notified about school cancellation Wednesday

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Shalee Cunningham

— Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Shalee Cunningham praised district staff members in an e-mail Thursday for helping inform families Wednesday that school had been canceled.

She thanked them for answering their phones at 5 a.m., getting to the schools and initiating phone trees and e-mails to parents. She thanked the people who stopped at the Clark Store and lead custodian Steve Schibline for checking as many as eight weather stations before 5 a.m. and informing her that temperatures had dipped to 40 below zero.

However, not all parents got the message that the district had called off school for the first time in 22 years.

The Steamboat Springs Po­­lice Department reported sending some students home from bus stops Wednesday morning. And some parents told the Steamboat Today that they didn’t receive calls informing them of the closure.

Cunningham, however, said she doesn’t think there is a better way to get the word out.

“We have 2,200 kids,” she said Thursday morning. “That’s probably 4,000 parents. I can imagine some didn’t get called. I have one phone call from one mother who didn’t get called. That’s it.”

Despite another frigid morning Thursday — Cunningham said the temperature at the district’s bus barn was 35 below zero — she decided not to cancel classes for a second consecutive day.

Cunningham said the district had a difficult time getting its diesel buses started and running. She said when the district bought its diesel buses, the district was told the fuel would gel at 30 below zero, which contributed to her decision to cancel classes Wednesday.

“We know at 40 below it’s a no go,” she said. Thursday, “at 35 below, it’s problematic.”

Cunningham said Wednes­day that she would review the district’s school closings and cancellations policy, which states that the superintendent should call off school when temperatures reach 40 below zero.

She couldn’t say when the administrative policy, which doesn’t require board approval, might be changed.

Cunningham said students wouldn’t have to make up the day off because they already would attend enough hours of school to meet state requirements.

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or e-mail jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com

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