Tuesday, December 08, 2009

How Does The Ann Arbor Public Schools Make a "Snow Day" Decision?

From Brad Mellor, Director of Transportation

Throughout the evening weather conditions are monitored via Internet, TV, radio, and an informal network of other transportation directors throughout the area. If warranted a call is made to the district's snow routes team to go into action.

Before 3 AM, three transportation Supervisors and a veteran bus driver meet with the director of transportation at the transportation terminal. Each of these 4 individuals is a highly experienced driver, with many years behind the wheel of a school bus.

By 3:15 A.M., they're on the road in 4 different buses.

Over the next hour or so, the buses will follow 4 predetermined routes to the 4 corners of the district. The drivers radio back comments from locations along the route, which are recorded in the dispatch center. At the same time, the director of transportation will be fielding more cell calls from the other districts. (Other local districts seems to want to know what Ann Arbor is going to do before they make their decision!)

Our team will drive well-lit city avenues, the interstate highway, and some remote gravel roads. They'll stop and walk the sidewalks at schools, and check the conditions in subdivisions and neighborhoods.

By 4:00 A.M. the drivers will report back to the transportation terminal. Each driver will be polled and record their perceptions. The only question is "Can we safely open school, and get them back home?"

One last tour of the cell phone circuit to other schools, and then it's time to wake up the Superintendent. The Superintendent will be presented with a recommendation based on all input and evidence. After reviewing all the information the Superintendent makes the final decision.

This is the process used to determine the viability of the area roads to deliver AAPS students safely to and from school.