Superintendent’s Update: Friday, October 13

Dear Batavia Families and Community,

Fall is officially here, with the onset of colder weather arriving this past week. While we enjoyed some nice summer weather, it is time to start thinking about winter.

That said, I want to remind our families of the decision process around inclement weather closings. “Snow day” decisions are quite popular for “Monday-morning quarterbacking,” which I understand and can appreciate, but I do want to be transparent with you now regarding our process:

First and most important, we all want our children in school engaged in the learning process, provided that the weather conditions are safe. We have school bus drivers who take personal pride in ensuring our students are transported safely to and from school, and I have the utmost confidence in each of our drivers, as well as our buildings and grounds staff, to ensure clear and safe school driveways and school sidewalks for our children. Student safety is always at the forefront of any decision, and certainly, this includes weather conditions. I also completely understand the child-care issues that occur when schools close or have a delayed start. 

Of course, the ultimate decision on whether or not to send your child to school rests with you—the family. If, in your personal judgment, you believe it is unsafe to send your child to school, that decision will be respected. 

When weather conditions are predicted to be challenging, I review forecasts 24-72 hours prior to the predicted “event,” confer with neighboring superintendents, and maintain regular contact with local officials as needed.

In years past, the decision to close or delay was sometimes made the night before. Other times, the decision to close or delay was made early in the morning. It is simply difficult to provide you with a hard and fast rule when it comes to the timing of closing decisions, as there are a variety of factors that need to be taken into account. What I will promise you is that the decision to close will be made in a timely manner (i.e., prior to 6 a.m. for a morning closing or delay) and that student safety will be the only concern. 

In recent years, the wind-chill factor has been a key element in whether school districts close or remain open. The Monroe County Public Health Department has recommended that schools consider closure or later arrival when the wind chill falls around -25 degrees or colder. Frostbite can occur on exposed skin in about 30 minutes. The decision to close based on cold alone will be given careful consideration. 

If school is open on unusually cold days, please be sure that your children are dressed warmly in hats, gloves, etc. 

State law requires a minimum of 180 days of instruction, or districts can incur significant financial penalties. When necessary, schools may need to adjust the calendar—including scheduled vacations—to meet this requirement. Adjusting vacations will always be a last resort, but I wanted you to be aware that this is a (distant) possibility. 

In addition to monitoring the local news media (Buffalo and Rochester, as well as our local media partners), I would also encourage you to follow our BCSD social media platforms (Facebook and/or Twitter) to receive instant information regarding school closings and delays. Please “like” us on Facebook and/or “follow” us on Twitter. 

We will also continue to use ParentSquare alerts to notify you of closing decisions. If your contact information has changed, please reach out to your child’s school so we can update your number in our system. 

The district will continue to be proactive in our efforts to monitor weather conditions to ensure the safety of our students while being aware of the importance of state regulations and the academic needs of our students. 

I am pleased to share with you that the week of October 16th is the start of School Board of Education Appreciation Week across all of New York. Our Batavia City School District Board of Education consists of seven dedicated volunteers who literally put the “public” in “public education” and play an important role in our community. They are charged with reviewing and approving numerous policies, monitoring our Strategic Plan and academic goals, overseeing yours truly (the only employee of the Board of Education), and serving as financial stewards for our community—all on a volunteer basis, with their only motivation to serve our students, staff, families, and our Batavia community. 

So, please join me in thanking and appreciating our Board of Education members here in Batavia:

John Marucci, President

John Reigle, Vice President

Korinne Anderson

Alice Ann Benedict

Barbara Bowman

Jennifer Lendvay

Chezeray Rolle

For full access to our Board of Education information, agendas, and policies, click here: BCSD Board of Education, and if you want to learn more about our members, please visit this page: BCSD Board of Education Members.

As we move into next week, please be on the lookout for more tokens of appreciation to our Board of Education members.

Have a wonderful weekend, and Go Blue Devils and Bills!

Jason A. Smith Superintendent of Schools 585-343-2480, ext 1000

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