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Woodford Times - Peoria, IL
  • Peter Chianca: The snow robocall they’d LIKE to make

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  • ďItís a lonely decision. Because if you get it wrong one way or the other youíre going to get huge abuse.Ē -- Bethlehem, Pa., schools superintendent on school cancellations, Time magazine, Feb. 12
    Hello, parents. Please excuse my scratchy voice, but Iíve been up most of the night monitoring weather forecasts for the upcoming winter snowstorm, and also I havenít slept well generally following all the threatening Tweets I received when I didnít cancel school for the last storm. Plus, Iíve been drinking, so thereís that.
    As you probably know, another winter storm has been forecast for later today. I think itís the eighth or ninth storm of the season -- frankly theyíre starting to blend together, like fever dreams or all those Hobbit movies.
    Regardless, weíve had a lot of storms, and for every one of them Iíve made a decision about closing schools based on the best information available from the National Weather Service, the local police department and our DPW director, who lately has been calling me at all hours even when itís not snowing, just to talk about movies and poetry.
    Anyway, forecasters seem reasonably sure that todayís storm will dump anywhere from 2 to 25 inches of snow in our area, or not. And yet somehow they get to keep their jobs, whereas one school bus full of kindergartners gets stuck in a snow drift for a few hours and I get put on warning by the school board. Iím just telling you this to give you an idea of what Iím up against here.
    So youíre probably wondering whether school is cancelled or not, given that this call is coming at 5:10 in the morning and you have to plan your day if school is not in session, such as reminding your children which flammable materials to avoid until Mommy gets home from work. I wanted to say that I completely understand your predicament, and not because Iím trying to stall until all the neighboring districts make up their minds so I can do whatever they did. Well, not JUST because of that.
    But before I let you know about the status of classes for the day, I wanted to remind you that weíre looking for volunteers to shovel the top of the elementary school, which structural experts have determined could collapse at any moment if we donít clear the snow from the previous eight storms. (Or nine, whatever.) No pressure.
    Also I should mention that the bus that got stuck in the snow drift had nothing to do with the inclement weather -- the guy just canít drive for crap, but we canít fire him. Unions!
    But as to school for today: Iíve been hitting the ďrefreshĒ button on my browser for the entirety of this call, and seeing that no other nearby districts have cancelled, we will be having school as usual. If youíd like to discuss this decision, call 555-0159, which may or may not be the direct line for the DPW director. Iíve deleted my Twitter account, so donít even think about it, @SuperSucks427.
    Page 2 of 2 - Whatís that? [mumbling in background] Oh. It seems Iíve just been told the schools are actually on winter break this week, so I guess you can ignore this message. If you need me Iíll most likely be on paid administrative leave.
    Peter Chianca is the editor in chief for Gatehouse Media New Englandís north-of-Boston newspapers and websites. Follow him on Twitter at @pchianca.
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