November 14, 2014
Given the recent weather pattern and the long-term forecast for our area, I feel compelled to send this letter earlier than in past years. As I have done in the past, I would like to share the process that we use when we decide close or delay the opening of schools.
In the very early hours of the morning, the Director of Facilities contacts local police and the directors of public works for Hopewell and Pennington. Together, they study weather forecasts and review conditions in the community and district property. At the same time, the Director of Transportation communicates with bus contractors and key department employees. While they discuss the road situation, I review the weather across the region. (Hopewell Valley is geographically quite diverse and encompasses over 60 square miles. The weather can, and does, vary greatly.) Finally, I talk with area superintendents during a 4:30 am conference call. The final pronouncement rests on my shoulders with advice from our Director of Facilities, the local police and other key administrators. There are numerous factors to weigh before a decision is reached. First and foremost, I must consider the safety of students and staff. I ask myself: “Can the buses deliver students to and from home?” “Can students wait outside for school buses?” “Are our schools prepared to open?” I must make a decision no later than 5:30 am to close or delay schools and by 10:00 am for an early dismissal.
As in the past, we will be using the AlertNow system to inform residents of a school closing, delay or early dismissal. This communication will take place between 6:00 and 6:30 am for closing and by 10:00 am for an early dismissal. Parents/guardians will receive an email and phone message using their contact information listed in Infinite Campus. In addition, a message will be placed on the district website (www.hvrsd.org), on the cable stations (Comcast Channel 19 and Verizon FiOs Channel 32), and on the district telephone system (737-8449). Whenever possible, an effort will be made to make a decision the night before a weather emergency. In those cases, communication will be sent before 10:00 pm.
As we begin another eventful weather season, I want to thank you in advance for your patience and understanding.
Thomas A. Smith, Ed.D.