New Brunswick

Parents can weigh in on snow days at Anglophone West town hall

Snow days — they happen every year — but this year, the Anglophone West School District wants to hear parents' concerns about the unexpected days off. 

First in series of town hall meetings will focus on the district's transportation system

School bus delays, the length of school bus rides and general questions about the transportation system are up for discussion at the town hall in Fredericton on Wednesday night. (The Associated Press)

Snow days — they happen every year — but this year, the Anglophone West School District wants to hear parents' concerns about the unexpected days off. 

The district will hold a series of town hall meetings to give parents a chance to speak on various issues, including what has become a controversial issue in New Brunswick: the number of days schools are closed because of weather. 

The first town hall meeting is on transportation and is taking place Wednesday evening.

"This, being our first one, we know that transportation captures the attention of a lot of people," said David McTimoney, the superintendent of schools in Anglophone West.

McTimoney said he expects parents will want to discuss snow days and school closures.

In June, the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies recently released a study titled "Missing in Action: School Storm Days, Student Absenteeism and the Workplace," which said an average of nine to 16 days are lost each school year because of storms or other weather-related events.

McTimoney said he understands snow days are a popular topic, and he wants to make it clear the decision to close schools isn't made lightly.

"It's not a snap decision," McTimoney said. "The process starts the night before it begins, very early in the morning.

"It's always a decision that is made with the information that we have available at that time. We know that there will be times when a few hours later, we will have wished that we made a different decision."

How does a school district decide to call a snow day?

4 years ago
Duration 1:49
This is what happens behind the scenes when transportation managers see snow, ice or other trouble in the forecast.

Although snow days are a pressing issue, McTimoney said, they won't be the sole focus of the evening. It will also cover school bus delays, the length of school bus rides and general questions about the transportation system.

"That's really what an evening such as tomorrow night encourages — conversation about about that type of thing," he said.

He said the district, which covers about a third of the province, has 257 bus routes for 17,000 students, and bus drivers cover about 34,500 kilometres a day. 

"When I look at our transportation system, I feel that it's an effective system. It's not one without its bumps in the road that's for sure, in more ways than one."

David McTimoney, the superintendent of schools in the Anglophone West School District, said he's expecting snow days will be a pressing topic at the town hall. (CBC News file photo)

He said he believes the policies are reasonable, but he wants to hear what parents think.

"I don't know that we would necessarily go back to walking to school five miles each day uphill both ways, like it was when I went to school," he said, joking. 

But McTimoney said the district does have some authority to make changes, after considering staffing, money and safety,

The town hall meeting will be held at Nashwaaksis Middle School on Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. 

McTimoney said town halls on other topics will be arranged for other locations later.

With files from Information Morning Fredericton

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