Dr. Robinson Explains Reasoning Behind Frequent Snow Days (VIDEO)

By Rachel Martin - 21Alive

January 28, 2014 Updated Jan 28, 2014 at 1:14 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) – Fort Wayne Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Wendy Robinson explains why she feels it’s necessary to close school, and how the snow days could affect the district’s schedule.

Fort Wayne Community Schools (FWCS) Superintendent Dr. Wendy Robinson announced at Monday night’s school board meeting, that Tuesday will be the eighth snow day for the district.

Whether it’s the snow or the frigid below freezing temperatures, Dr. Robinson says school has been closed because it’s not safe.

“I cannot imagine putting a 5-year old out in that. With the streets the way they are, you can’t always guarantee that the bus will be there exactly when you want it to be,” she said. “The way the weather’s been with the wind and drifting, it’s not safe.”

However, the cancellations have wreaked havoc on the district's schedule. Dr. Robinson says as of now, the last day of school could be pushed back into the second week of June.

"I won’t even try to guess,” she said, “but there's a mandate for 180 days, and we're not accredited unless we have 180 days. We don't make up school days just to be mean about it, we're expected to have 180 days and that's what we're going to do."

Dr. Robinson says historically February has proven to have worse weather than December or January, so she’s fairly confident more snow days can occur.

“We have to keep in mind that it’s a safety issue. We do everything in our power to be absolutely certain we can get students here safely. When we know we can’t, we close. It’s as simple as that.”

But FWCS is not the only district facing the challenge. Snow days are racking up statewide and the Indiana Department of Education says ISTEP testing could be affected.

Dr. Robinson says she’s spoken to State Superintendent Glenda Ritz personally and was told they are working on a contingency plan.

“I’ve talked directly with Superintendent Ritz and there are laws about when you do ISTEP and when all that is handled, so obviously she has to work through all of that,” said Dr. Robinson. “As soon as we can inform parents, when we get an answer, we’ll make sure the parents are aware of it.”

In the meantime, Dr. Robinson says FWCS will be in session on Friday, a day students originally had off for parent-teacher conferences.

The district released this statement Monday from Dr. Robinson:

"Because of the number of cancellations we have had this month and likely additional cancellations we will have this week, we have decided to cancel the Parent-Teacher Conferences scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. While we believe this time with parents is important, we have not been in school enough yet this semester for in-depth conversations to take place. We will use Friday as a make-up day.

We still believe communication between teachers and parents is critical to student success. We will ask teachers to reach out to parents, and we encourage parents to contact teachers, if they want to set up a meeting to discuss their child's progress. As winter continues, we could still face delays and cancellations because of weather. We will make additional adjustments to the calendar as warranted."

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