Principal Explains Cancellations, Minutes to Make Up

Mattea Vecera, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

When Notre Dame Academy announces that there is a two-hour delay, school is cancelled due to weather conditions, or class is still held, it’s easy to blame the principal for the decision. But, does he make the call? If not, who does?

The answer: No, the principal does not decide whether or not classes are cancelled or if there will be a late start. According to Mr. Browne, “Our policies and procedures are tied with Green Bay because Green Bay provides all of the transportation. So, it actually would be the superintendent of Green Bay who decides if the students of Notre Dame have school because we just follow their lead.”

So, what would constitute cause for a cancellation? The general rule used by Green Bay Public School officials is when wind chill reaches 35 degrees below zero, school is called off.

“But then we also look at the length of time. If it’s going to be within just an hour or two and the temperature is going to be rising, we may have a late start. If it’s going to stay at that temperature for several hours, that would determine if we cancel for the day,” said Michael Stangel, the school district’s executive director of facilities.

These decisions are made on a day-to-day basis, with the safety of the students and staff as the top priority.

Another major factor in the decisions has to do with the bus companies.

According to Browne, “Any time there is an issue with school being closed, it’s always concerning the buses. Mostly it’s to do with students who have to wait outside for a bus because if you’re outside waiting for a bus and you’re not properly clothed, you can get frostbite. Or, if you miss your bus and you’re waiting there for too long.”

“The other bus issue that happens is that buses sometimes have a very hard time starting in the morning, particularly when it’s cold. So, when you have a two-hour delay, a lot of the time it’s because you have to get the buses started to make sure they can all run,” he said.

Another big question relating to school absences is how much can be missed before time needs to be added to the school year.

“It has to relate to the minutes. A school district has a definite number of minutes you have to have in a school year. What happens is that when we miss a day or have a late start, we have fewer minutes, and then we have to go back and calculate if we are still in compliance,” explained Browne.

Is Notre Dame needing to make up minutes or days?

“Mrs.(Karen) Konop, who runs the choice program here, Mr. (Greg) Masarik, and I are meeting later this week to determine what we should do if we have to make up some minutes,” the principal said.

A rumor going around Notre Dame this week is that we only technically had one snow day count last week because the others were cancelled by the government due to our being in a state of emergency.

“I have not heard that myself,” said Browne. “In different states, if the government says it’s a state of emergency, you don’t have to make up those days. But Wisconsin, for what I understand, doesn’t have that same rule. So, we have to make up those days.”

However, Browne seemed open to getting input from the students about how they would like to see these minutes made up should they be needed.

“As a principal, you’re always making these decisions without a lot of input. I always want to encourage people to share their thoughts. This isn’t exactly like a democracy, but it does help me to make decisions. It is your school, so I’d like to know what you think,” urged Browne.

What may seem like an easy decision to us students is definitely more complicated than it seems on the surface. Being that it’s only February and we still have months of winter ahead of us, it’s going to be very interesting to see how this snow day dilemma pans out.