2017-02-15 / Commentary

Calling Off School in The Age of Social Media

Cunningham's Corner
Douglas Cunningham


Douglas Cunningham is publisher and editor. Reach him at 845-265-2468, or editor@pcnr.com. Letters, on this or other topics, are welcome. Please limit to 500 words and send no later than noon Monday. Douglas Cunningham is publisher and editor. Reach him at 845-265-2468, or editor@pcnr.com. Letters, on this or other topics, are welcome. Please limit to 500 words and send no later than noon Monday. Time evens out a lot of things. One of things that no longer bothers me is whether school is canceled due to weather.

I realize not everyone thinks like that. Witness how Facebook lights up when school is canceled. My goodness, those teachers and administrators, they’ll cancel at the drop of a hat! What’s going on in that superintendent’s office, anyway? And so it goes.

Right. Here’s what’s going on. The super, the transit chief and buildings guy are doing the best they can. Are they wrong sometimes? Sure. Sometimes, did they cancel when it likely would have been safe to have classes? Maybe.

But most of the time, let’s face it, they’re not wrong. They are balancing the lives and safety of hundreds and hundreds of students at each district, about 14,000 kids across the county. That’s a lot of kids – and a lot of parents who would completely lose it if a bus went off the road. And they’re balancing the safety of many dozens of staff, hundreds, all told, county wide, many of whom are driving some distance to get to work. They’re doing this in the middle of the night. Not one of the six superintendents in Putnam County is “trying” to get a snow day. In fact, surely it’s simpler for them if the well-oiled machine just keeps humming along.

Ultimately, if a district gets behind on snow days, uses too many, is that a complication? Sure. Why, spring break may have to be shortened, and maybe even another recess gets trimmed down. The horror. Again, this is not the worst, or even a demonstrably bad, outcome.

I thought about this as I was coming in to work Friday morning. Snow removal efforts had not yet eradicated the most stubborn ice – yet some on Facebook, in Philipstown, were questioning the delay.

From here, the delay looked fine. It was a big, complicated storm Thursday. Road crews had a huge task. Stop obsessing over the delay or the cancellation. They’re doing the best they can.

And if you really want something to think about – considering the large amount most homeowners are paying in school taxes, and the additional money coming in from the state – look at your kids’ textbooks. Dive into the curriculum. Study the school budget, and the huge out-year costs for health care and pensions. Run for school board, for heaven’s sake.

Of course, that would take a hell of a lot more effort than sounding off on Facebook. But more involvement would contribute greatly to our school districts.

Until next week.

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