Superintendents in a tough spot on snow days

If you get a job interview with me at some point, there is a good chance one of the questions I am going to ask is, “If you could be doing any job in the world right now, what would your dream job be?”

As for me, when I grow up, I want to be a meteorologist in Michigan. Tell me, at what other job do you know that you can be wrong so often, yet never be in danger of losing that job?

Mind you, I am not being critical. Meteorologists work hard and, trust me, strive for 100-percent accuracy in all they do. It’s just that, when you are talking weather, it is an imperfect science, at best.

That is why I never understand the criticism leveled at school superintendents who sometimes “make the wrong call” when it comes to opening or closing school in bad weather conditions.

Some of that rumbling could be heard around the region this week, especially with Monday’s ugly weather. Many school superintendents “bit the bullet” Monday and went ahead and canceled classes, even though, at the early morning hour when the decisions were being made, the region was relatively calm, weather-wise, and wind speeds were mostly normal. Based on weather conditions at that point, there would seem little reason to cancel.

Meteorologists weren’t expecting those conditions to remain, however, and, as the morning progressed, they were predicting bad weather settling in.

The problem is, as you and I know, sometimes that will be true, sometimes not. And, even though the weather might turn bad, will it start at the predicted time, or several hours later?

A school superintendent is well aware of that reality, as well, in addition to the pressure of getting recordable school days in. He or she must weigh the pros and cons, with the student’s safety first and foremost being the most important factor.

Alpena schools started off Monday with students heading to classes. However, before too long, that decision was being regretted, and schools were closed and students sent home.

Did Superintendent John VanWagoner make a wrong call that day?

I don’t fault him at all for the decision he made, and, if your home has glass windows, I don’t believe you should, either.

Yes, Monday’s weather turned ugly quickly. Yes, it was not ideal to have some buses pull up to buildings, only to turn right around and head back to the areas where they just had been.

Yet, as you and I both know, weather is anything but a perfect science. And, when it comes to weather prediction, you can’t have the final word when Mother Nature is involved.

I appreciate the job school superintendents do in bad weather situations in the winter.

I believe most of you do, as well.

If I’m correct about that, it would be a great time to share your appreciation with your local superintendent.

It’s a thankless time of the year for them.

Bill Speer can be reached at 989-354-3111, ext. 311, or bspeer@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @billspeer13.