Last night Midland ISD superintendent Ryder Warren e-mailed faculty and staff shortly after 8:00 PM, informing them that the district was carefully watching the weather in anticipation of possible snow. This morning, at 5:30 AM, icy snow coated the ground and was sticking to the roads. In a surprise to many Midlanders, the school district did not cancel classes despite the sticking snow.
The snowfall continued through the start of school, fortunately remaining light flurries. In teachers lounges the faculty opined as to why school was not cancelled despite roads being considerably more slick and snowy than on previous cancelled days. One teacher thought that, in addition to Midland ISD having already used its two pre-planned snow days for the 2013-14 school year, the superintendent had received criticism from parents for previous cancellations. "The parents were angry that they had to figure out what to do with their kids," the teacher said. "And, with both planned snow days already used up, Ryder Warren did not want to deal with that again."
Unlike a late November day of sleet and snow where Midland High School administrators told students not to leave campus in their vehicles for lunch, today the administration merely cautioned teenagers to drive slowly and cautiously. Attendance in the author's first two class periods of the day has been quite good, though the students themselves predict that attendance will be considerably lower after lunch. Some predicted that there would be a difference in attendance based on academic performance, with more motivated students, typically in the Advanced Placement classes, being more willing to brave the snow and ice.
What remains to be seen is whether or not there will be an outcry of criticism for holding school today despite snow sticking to asphalt, which is usually Midland's universal standard for activity cancellation. Should the state of Texas grant school districts more flexibility regarding the number of days school must be in session per annum? Midland has faced an unusually high number of snowy and icy school days this year, perhaps due to climate change. Is it reasonable to insist on the 180-day schedule regardless of inclement weather?
If the school district has already used its two allotted snow days and needs to take a third, should it be able to do so without having to add an additional day to the semester? Districts, and the state, should come up with a "compression method" to allow an extra day or two of school cancellations to be absorbed without adding additional days to the end the semester, which would wreak havoc with the plans of both students and staff.
Keep warm and drive safe, west Texas!