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Snow days piling up

February 05, 2014 - With eight snow days so far for Clarkston schools, students may need to come in extra days or stay longer to make it up.

"We won't know for sure until April when more information comes out from the governor," said Superintendent Dr. Rod Rock. "Should we need to add time, we will likely do so by slightly extending the school day as opposed to adding additional days to the calendar."

Clarkston's calendar allow for seven snow days.

"Since the entire state is affected by this, we expect the governor to issue some sort of reprieve, but we cannot be sure," said the superintendent. "The administration will work with our collective bargaining groups, our parents, and the board of education to make this decision."

When there's snow and ice, transportation chief Kevin Bickerstaff goes out early to check the roads.

"He also looks at the temperature and works with his staff to get the buses started," Rock said. "If the temperature is -20 with the windchill, Kevin will recommend closing. If the roads are difficult or dangerous for buses, then Kevin will recommend closing."

Bickerstaff and Wes Goodman, executive director for operations, also talk to officials in other districts to see what they are doing.

"Wes then calls me and makes a recommendation," Rock said. "I make the decision and then begin the information distribution process."

The decision is based on student safety and not on what might happen later in the week or month, he said.

"Each day is its own consideration. We must keep our students safe," he said.

Bickerstaff, who has been with the district for nearly 40 years, keeps a record of all closings and the reasons, and uses the data in his decisions, Rock said.

"He is very good at his job and he puts student safety first," said the superintendent. "This is the worst winter we have experienced in many years. We anticipate additional snow days, although there is no way to predict what will happen."

–Phil Custodio

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