GLOVERSVILLE — Gloversville Enlarged School District Superintendent David Halloran apologized to students, families and staff members for making the “wrong call” by opening school at the regularly scheduled time on Monday morning despite poor road conditions caused by snow.
Halloran said he sent an email to staff members apologizing for the lack of a delay and in his monthly report during Monday’s Board of Education meeting apologized to students and families.
“I apologize to the families, putting kids and staff members at risk was certainly not my objective. The safety of our students and staff is my highest priority and that might not echo very loudly right now given what happened today, but anybody in my shoes would tell you that the biggest fear we ever have is getting the call wrong and having somebody get hurt or killed on our watch,” Halloran said.
The forecast for Monday originally called for temperatures to rise causing snow to turn to rain around 6:30 a.m., Halloran said. Instead snow continued to fall until around 10 a.m. depositing snow on roadways throughout the morning.
“In hindsight, it should have been an easy call, but when I made the call at 5 o’clock in the morning the information I had suggested that the temperature was going to rise before 7 a.m. and turn to rain,” Halloran said. “Knowing that our attendance is poor on delay days, I thought let’s get them in early and hopefully this will be soupy, but the roads will be clear and we’ll be good to go. Clearly that wasn’t the case.”
In Fulton County, Broadalbin-Perth Central School District and Northville Central School District operated on a two-hour delay on Monday. All other school districts opened at the regularly scheduled time.
“Meteorology is an inexact science to say the least,” Halloran said. “I will continue to try to err on the side of caution.”
Members of the Board of Education expressed surprise when no one addressed the board during the public comment portion of the meeting after local families expressed frustration over social media earlier in the day that the district did not delay or close schools due to road conditions over safety concerns and impeded travel on Monday.
Lt. Brad Schaffer, public information officer for the Gloversville Police Department, confirmed today that weather related conditions on Monday caused travel disruptions.
“Our patrol was very busy yesterday morning as a result of the conditions of the roadways,” Schaffer said.
At Gloversville High School, Schaffer said a vehicle became stuck in the roadway on the Lincoln Street hill leading to the school during arrivals temporarily preventing other vehicles from navigating the roadway.
Another traffic issue was reported at the entrance to Gloversville Middle School from Rose Street, but Schaffer said the issue had resolved itself by the time officers arrived after clearing Lincoln Street.
Attendance across the district was around the high-60 percent range, Halloran said, noting that given the road conditions in the morning he could understand the decision from some parents to keep kids home.
“I’m glad everybody was safe,” Halloran said. “Knowing that our student attendance takes such a hit on delay days, that’s something that maybe I need to be more mindful of, that I can’t let that cloud my judgment, but I need people to get their children to school on those delay days as well.”
Halloran noted that the district has used three out of four scheduled snow days for the school year. Two of those days were used on Thursday and Friday, which he said was the right call. If the school district exceeds its allotted snow days, a scheduled superintendent’s conference day in March would first be eliminated before the number of scheduled spring vacation days would potentially be reduced.
“We do live in Upstate New York and I try to be as realistic and as common sense as much as possible, but I definitely got it wrong today and I apologize for that,” Halloran said.
Ashley Onyon covers the city of Gloversville, Fulton-Montgomery Community College and Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Board of Cooperative Educational services. She can be reached at [email protected]