With the cold weather we have had and have forecasted for tomorrow, I want to give some insight into our decision-making process. After assessing the forecast, our first question is how our diesel buses are expected to fare. We buy high quality fuel and we winter treat the diesel fuel. If we believe our diesel buses will run without fuel issues and we do not have precipitation in the forecast we will lean towards a normal start time.
Of course, the circumstances are different for each household, but I worry about the net overall loss of safety that occurs when we go to a 2-hour delay and disrupt the normal morning routine because parents have to leave for work and our younger students may have to set off for the bus stop or school without an adult able to make sure they are properly dressed…and our younger students may be forced to have unsupervised time at home. On especially cold days, we run some additional USD 382-marked vehicles to pick up students who have arrived early to bus stops. It’s several additional hands-on deck. For early practices, we will typically cancel those on these types of days because I have concerns about our older students driving at 5:30-6:00 am and having an issue when there are few other drivers out to spot an issue and provide assistance, especially in the country. I do not think we can reliably make attendance checks on students who do not show for a 6:00 am practice. For the school day, we do make an extra effort to do early checks on attendance to make sure our Greenbacks are accounted for.
The decision-making process is a bit different for snow/ice days. Again, we do understand the hardship on some parents when we make a decision to delay the start of school or cancel for the day and we understand there is a bit of a safety tradeoff with a delay or cancelation. Maintaining a consistent start time and an open school offers some safety benefits, especially for our younger learners, and that balances against road conditions. But icy/snow-packed road conditions and poor visibility weigh more heavily in the safety equation. We will also be a bit more cautious early in the season (or the first couple of snow events) when drivers have to relearn winter weather driving.
To assess current conditions, we drive our roads and communicate with other neighboring school districts. We refer to NOAA, Weather.com, and WeatherBug for up-to-date weather forecasts. Weather forecasting, of course, is notoriously inconsistent, especially with the timing of bad weather.
We will sometimes announce a 2-hour delay for the next morning when poor road conditions are forecasted in order to give us additional time for assessment and preparation while also giving some predictability for parents. The trick is to not use the delay and push the morning commute into worsening conditions--that is a tough call sometimes. When we issue a morning delay 10 hours or more in advance, there is always the possibility that the morning assessment will lead to an extension of the delay or a cancellation for the day. For any school delay or cancellation, we will issue a school messenger text/call first. Second, we will call it into KAKE, KSN, & KWCH. Finally, as always, safety is most important, and we trust our parents to make decisions on these types of mornings if the conditions in your area are more severe than what we saw in our early morning scout.
No School - Teacher Professional Learning Day - February 19th
End of 3rd 9 weeks - March 7th - 11:30 Dismissal
No School - March 8th
Daylight Savings Time - March 10th
Spring Break - March 11-15th
No School - March 29th - April 1st
No School - Teacher Professional Learning Day - April 15th
On behalf of our teachers, staff, and school board I welcome you to our district webpage. We are proud of the important work we do with kids to set them up for success and personal well-being this day, this year, and in their future.
We are small-town schools where strong relationships are an integral part of what we do—our principals know every student. Our high school students pair with elementary students (Greenback Match), providing positive leadership and building connections within our student family. Elementary and middle school students hold daily “family” meetings to foster our sense of teamwork and togetherness. Developing our students’ social-emotional strengths is an important goal because we recognize its connection to personal well-being and success both now and in the future.
Because of our size, we are still able to provide a wide variety of opportunities for our students. We have first-class arts programs (band, vocal, theater, debate, forensics, and art), a model elementary MTSS program, an enrichment program for all students, multiple career pathways with instructors in the specialties, and internship and apprenticeship programs. With our connection to Pratt Community College, our college-bound students often leave with 15-30 hours or more of college credit.
In athletics and activities, we compete at a high level—4A for most activities (3A in football). This level allows our entire student body to participate and be successful in multiple activities if they are willing to commit and work hard. But, make no mistake, you must compete with grit to be successful at our level. We have Greenback alumni on scholarship at D1 and D2 programs as well as smaller colleges, community colleges, and technical schools—both for athletics and academics. Regardless of the educational path they choose to take when they leave us, we are proud of our Greenback graduates who are positive contributors to our community and others.
We are small schools with big opportunities. We are a Greenback family. If you would like a tour, please feel free to contact our principals or myself.
Tony Helfrich, Superintendent
Pratt Schools USD 382