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Snow graffiti at Canton Central School. Archive Photo of the Day: Lizette C. Haenel, Canton NY.
Snow graffiti at Canton Central School. Archive Photo of the Day: Lizette C. Haenel, Canton NY.

School "snow days" dwindle as snow piles up

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This winter's extreme cold and heaps of snow have caused havoc for travelers and homeowners, and could end up rewriting the spring break calendars for some North Country school districts.

About a half dozen schools in Jefferson and Lewis counties canceled classes again last Friday because of heavy snow.

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Reported by

Todd Moe
Morning Host and Producer

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Indian River school superintendent James Kettrick says this has been an "intense" winter in terms of morning delays, early dismissals and snow days.

"I've had people, with backhanded affection, tell me because of our school messenger program, which allows me to send out robo-calls to parents on snow days, that they're sick and tired of hearing my voice, we've done it so much," he says.

Closing school is a tough call, says Kettrick, even with hours of preparation and discussion among administrators, local officials, road crews and meteorologists. Forecasts aren't guarantees, and winter weather can be fickle: "We actually like it when the weather is really poor, because then it's easy. it's when the forecast is not as clear, that it's a more difficult decision. We've had some mornings here when the weather was really bad when faculty were trying to get in to school, and then after they're here, it's sunny."

Snow days are built into North Country school calendars. Indian River started the year with six. They're down to two. The district's business manager, Jim Koch, has been with the school for 15 winters. This one, he says, is the most chaotic: "Obviously the ice storm of '98 was a big event, but that just meant we knew to close school. But we have not had the cold and snow like we've had in the last few weeks since I've been here. When you're talking -37 degrees, that's cold."

Sometimes a district will delay classes rather close altogether, especially when the number of "snow days" is adding up. Koch says his school takes a "better-safe-than-sorry" approach. A two hour delay lets the school get its buses running and gives families more time to get out the door.

"When we have this much snow, people need to dig out, we need to give road crews time to clear roads so out buses can travel safely. Over 95 percent of our students ride the bus. So, we need to be careful about keeping our students safe on the ride to and from school."

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