Fickle buses no longer rule day on Hamilton public school closures

News Nov 27, 2014 Hamilton Mountain News

By Richard Leitner, News Staff

If it’s too cold for school buses to start, students at Hamilton public schools will no longer automatically get the day off.

A new inclement weather policy more likely to be cheered by parents than kids now gives the board’s education director the discretion to keep schools open when buses aren’t running.

Vice-chair Todd White, head of the board’s policy committee, said the change reflects that school buses’ diesel engines are more susceptible to frigid temperatures than gasoline ones, incapacitating them even when road conditions are safe.

The new policy now mirrors the Catholic board’s practice.

“Often when schools are cancelled you consider it a snow day, but in the odd example where you look out your window, there is no snow falling yet transportation needs to be cancelled,” White said.

“It’s simply giving the director that discretion,” he said. “Each day and each circumstance is different, so it really is a judgment call based on the circumstances.”

During discussion on the policy at the outgoing board’s final meeting, trustee Alex Johnstone, re-elected in wards 11 and 12, said students shouldn’t be expected to walk when it’s too cold for buses.

“Students can be walking up to 45 minutes or longer and I think in extreme cold weather I wouldn’t want to promote that,” she said.

But Judith Bishop, who is stepping down as trustee for wards 1 and 2, said the past practice cancelled classes when conditions posed no danger.

She said she heard many concerns about students walking to school at the beginning of last year’s cold spell, but students got used to it as time wore on.

“I don’t mean to sound hard-hearted, but we are living in a cold climate,” Bishop said, noting other parts of Canada have far more extreme temperatures. “It is relatively healthy to be out in the cold.”

White said parents always have the discretion to keep their kids at home if they believe it’s too cold to walk.

“It’s a bit more arbitrary whether buses decide to start or not,” he said.

Trustees also passed changes to the board’s transportation policy that now guarantee busing for students taking French immersion or attending specialty high school programs outside their catchment area.

The revised policy gives senior administrators more discretion to provide busing, when funding is available, for students who face special challenges getting to school.

It now also sets an hour maximum for students to be on the bus each way, except under exceptional circumstances like inclement weather.

The old version simply stated trips would “not normally exceed 60 minutes” and saw some students in rural areas exceed that benchmark.

Fickle buses no longer rule day on Hamilton public school closures

News Nov 27, 2014 Hamilton Mountain News

By Richard Leitner, News Staff

If it’s too cold for school buses to start, students at Hamilton public schools will no longer automatically get the day off.

A new inclement weather policy more likely to be cheered by parents than kids now gives the board’s education director the discretion to keep schools open when buses aren’t running.

Vice-chair Todd White, head of the board’s policy committee, said the change reflects that school buses’ diesel engines are more susceptible to frigid temperatures than gasoline ones, incapacitating them even when road conditions are safe.

The new policy now mirrors the Catholic board’s practice.

“Often when schools are cancelled you consider it a snow day, but in the odd example where you look out your window, there is no snow falling yet transportation needs to be cancelled,” White said.

“It’s simply giving the director that discretion,” he said. “Each day and each circumstance is different, so it really is a judgment call based on the circumstances.”

During discussion on the policy at the outgoing board’s final meeting, trustee Alex Johnstone, re-elected in wards 11 and 12, said students shouldn’t be expected to walk when it’s too cold for buses.

“Students can be walking up to 45 minutes or longer and I think in extreme cold weather I wouldn’t want to promote that,” she said.

But Judith Bishop, who is stepping down as trustee for wards 1 and 2, said the past practice cancelled classes when conditions posed no danger.

She said she heard many concerns about students walking to school at the beginning of last year’s cold spell, but students got used to it as time wore on.

“I don’t mean to sound hard-hearted, but we are living in a cold climate,” Bishop said, noting other parts of Canada have far more extreme temperatures. “It is relatively healthy to be out in the cold.”

White said parents always have the discretion to keep their kids at home if they believe it’s too cold to walk.

“It’s a bit more arbitrary whether buses decide to start or not,” he said.

Trustees also passed changes to the board’s transportation policy that now guarantee busing for students taking French immersion or attending specialty high school programs outside their catchment area.

The revised policy gives senior administrators more discretion to provide busing, when funding is available, for students who face special challenges getting to school.

It now also sets an hour maximum for students to be on the bus each way, except under exceptional circumstances like inclement weather.

The old version simply stated trips would “not normally exceed 60 minutes” and saw some students in rural areas exceed that benchmark.

Fickle buses no longer rule day on Hamilton public school closures

News Nov 27, 2014 Hamilton Mountain News

By Richard Leitner, News Staff

If it’s too cold for school buses to start, students at Hamilton public schools will no longer automatically get the day off.

A new inclement weather policy more likely to be cheered by parents than kids now gives the board’s education director the discretion to keep schools open when buses aren’t running.

Vice-chair Todd White, head of the board’s policy committee, said the change reflects that school buses’ diesel engines are more susceptible to frigid temperatures than gasoline ones, incapacitating them even when road conditions are safe.

The new policy now mirrors the Catholic board’s practice.

“Often when schools are cancelled you consider it a snow day, but in the odd example where you look out your window, there is no snow falling yet transportation needs to be cancelled,” White said.

“It’s simply giving the director that discretion,” he said. “Each day and each circumstance is different, so it really is a judgment call based on the circumstances.”

During discussion on the policy at the outgoing board’s final meeting, trustee Alex Johnstone, re-elected in wards 11 and 12, said students shouldn’t be expected to walk when it’s too cold for buses.

“Students can be walking up to 45 minutes or longer and I think in extreme cold weather I wouldn’t want to promote that,” she said.

But Judith Bishop, who is stepping down as trustee for wards 1 and 2, said the past practice cancelled classes when conditions posed no danger.

She said she heard many concerns about students walking to school at the beginning of last year’s cold spell, but students got used to it as time wore on.

“I don’t mean to sound hard-hearted, but we are living in a cold climate,” Bishop said, noting other parts of Canada have far more extreme temperatures. “It is relatively healthy to be out in the cold.”

White said parents always have the discretion to keep their kids at home if they believe it’s too cold to walk.

“It’s a bit more arbitrary whether buses decide to start or not,” he said.

Trustees also passed changes to the board’s transportation policy that now guarantee busing for students taking French immersion or attending specialty high school programs outside their catchment area.

The revised policy gives senior administrators more discretion to provide busing, when funding is available, for students who face special challenges getting to school.

It now also sets an hour maximum for students to be on the bus each way, except under exceptional circumstances like inclement weather.

The old version simply stated trips would “not normally exceed 60 minutes” and saw some students in rural areas exceed that benchmark.