School decisions aren’t easy

Mark Vollmer is an early riser during the winter months, and for good reason. Vollmer, the superintendent of the Minot Public School District, is tasked with making the final decision whether the district will hold classes on days when there is bad weather or potential bad weather.

When necessary, Vollmer gathers as much weather data as he can, including taking very early morning personal drives around Minot and the outskirts of the city, so he can best understand the day’s weather conditions. On Sunday, Vollmer cancelled district classes for Monday because sub-zero temperatures and strong winds combined to produce dangerous wind chills. It was the right decision.

Vollmer’s decisions when to cancel classes aren’t easy. Like every other district superintendent in the state, Vollmer must balance the obvious need to keep the district on schedule with the cold reality that sometimes, weather conditions dictate that schedule. With temperatures of 20 below zero or more and strong winds pushing wind chills to 50 degrees below zero or colder, the decision to cancel school Monday certainly was in the best interests of the students and that must constantly play a strong role in Vollmer’s decisions.

No doubt the fact that the Minot district has a large number of portable classrooms also factored into the decision. Students in portable classrooms have to walk between their classrooms and the actual school building multiple times during a day, a challenging endeavour when temperatures and wind chills drop to dangerous levels like they did on Monday.

We know cancelling classes on any day creates rescheduling issues with the district schedule, but sometimes it simply must be done.