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Tremblay vs. Snow

"You would think you have arrived when you are the person who's calling snow days, but really it is the worst part of the job," Milford Superintendent Robert Tremblay said during a phone interview on February 2, the fourth snow day of the school year here in Milford.

Although, Milford schools are in a better position than a lot of other local towns, the district is currently looking at students being in school until June 21 and more snow is already in the forecast as this article heads for the printing presses.

Tremblay walked me through the process of how "the call" is made, how it impacts the district, and some of the feedback he receives from parents.

When snow is in the forecast, Tremblay keeps track of what the National Weather Service is forecasting and what Milford Highway Surveyor Scott Crisafulli sees on the streets and sidewalks around town. "If Scott can get the roads cleared and the sidewalks usable, and the town is ahead of the snow, then school is on," said Tremblay

"I do call other superintendents of local towns and see what they are doing," but Tremblay added with the number of working parents in town, as well as the language barrier that occurs with non-English speaking parents "Milford is unique... I need to weigh the safety of the students getting to and from school, against the possibilities of students being home unattended."

As for the impact on the district, legally students must attend school for 180 days and teachers are contracted for 182, all to be completed by July 1. Tremblay explained that there is no directive from the state on how those days should be handled, so currently Milford has just be tagging them on at the end of the year. If make-up days start encroaching on that July 1 deadline, Tremblay says that other options will need to be explored, but that hasn't come up yet.

So, what do the parents have to say? Tremblay says that there are always a few who contact him about the call either way and he just tries to explain his position, saying, "We live in New England and snow is part of that, I just try to make the best call for the district every day."

One such day was on February 1, when all other local schools canceled and Milford had a full day. That was a "long day" according to Tremblay. Working with Crisafulli and the Milford Public Schools Transportation Coordinator, the three made sure that roads and parking lots were cleared, that student drivers left in staggered patterns, and that students were released to their buses slightly early to account for added travel time.

So far in the battle of Tremblay vs. the snow, Tremblay seems to be winning, but there is still a lot of winter left. Hopefully, in the heat of June the kids will look back and remember with fondness the snow days of 2011.


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