Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Our public school specifications of what calls a snow day.

CALAMITY DAYS

How it works.

Since many of our families have written and called with questions about our procedures and have inquired about [our public schools] running a two-hour delay on days when schools are facing closure due to inclement weather, we offer this to help explain things a bit more.

[Our public schools] takes seriously the declaration of any day schools are closed and follows the required guidance provided by the Ohio Revised Code.

Declaring a so-called Calamity Day is guided by Ohio Revised Code 3317.01 (B), which provides Ohio school districts six reasons that drive such a decision: 
  •     disease epidemic
  •     hazardous weather conditions
  •     law enforcement emergencies
  •     inoperability of school buses or other equipment
  •     damage to a school building
  •     other temporary circumstances due to utility failure

When a calamity day is declared during the winter season, it is often called a snow day. Calling a snow day is always a difficult decision, and we do not make these decisions lightly.

The superintendent of our school district always bases the decision on the safety of our students and staff. Although there are no hard and fast rules when deciding to close school due to inclement weather, the following conditions are considered:
  •     the amount of snow on the ground
  •     the amount of snow PROJECTED to fall
  •     weather forecasts for the entire school day
  •     road conditions
  •     temperature
  •     wind chill
  •     ability of the City [employees] to plow and salt the streets
  •     conditions of school parking lots and sidewalks

[Our public schools] staff members travel around the city beginning at 1:30 a.m. of the school day when bad weather is expected.

We do this to assist in determining the conditions that may lead to the cancellation of classes.  
Our staff makes direct contact with the City - - - Snow and Ice Division as well as with - - - police and the county sheriff.

Of our 20,000 students, we provide roughly 5,000 with bus transportation in grades K-8 (only). This follows state of Ohio rules for who is eligible for transport.

The remainder of [our public school] students will usually choose to walk to school.

High-school-age students do not receive school bus transportation, but many may ride [the public bus service.]

Other Factors
Eighty-six per cent of our students qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Many of our families are from low-income households who have no transportation. Some are even homeless. Even though we work with community organizations to provide free winter clothing for our families (and other necessary services), we know that many of our families still struggle getting children to school in harsh weather.

All of our parents reserve the right to keep their children home if they feel it is not safe to make the trek.

However, the district is required to report every student’s daily attendance to the Ohio Department of Education. State ODE requirements allow students to have only certain reasons to be excused from class when schools are open. These reporting requirements are strict and adhered to for all students attending [our public schools].

Students missing school due to weather only will not be considered to have an excused absence by ODE.

Many have asked why we do not yet pursue employing a two-hour delay. Reasons for this are many, but the most prevalent would be the mere logistics of it. [Our public schools] run 350 bus routes every day, using more than 60 buses to transport students to most of our 54 schools and 50 other private, charter and parochial schools in Northeast Ohio.

Many of our own schools have different start times as do the other schools we serve with transportation. Some charter schools do not begin until 9 a.m. A delay would put their start time at 11 in the morning. With a recess at the end of the day just a few hours beyond that, the wisdom of utilizing this method is questionable.

As always, we continue to explore ways to improve how this all works, within the boundaries of state rules and regulations.

- -  This information was taken from an e-mail sent to me by our public schools. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

There is someone in my backyard . . .

. . . and she is COLD.  She's told me that.  She doesn't really mind the snow.  That isn't a problem.  The continual Arctic blasts of cold air make her shiver to her sticks and carrot.  

My baby made us a snowlady outside of our bedroom window. 

Just sayin'. Even the snowlady is having issues.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

We pulled the trigger and ditched cable.

I should start this off by saying that we've never been huge TV people.  I mean, sure-- we watch it.  We've just never required the awesome sum of channels that some others have.

We've had "antenna" cable for probably 11 years.  We didn't really want cable, but my in-law's kind of built it into our Christmas gift when K was born and that was kind of them.  They knew that we wouldn't have it otherwise.  Though they've offered to upgrade, we just wanted to stick with cable enough to get some reception and that was it.

Here's the thing.  Cable has gone up.  And up.  And up.  What used to be $10 was now $25.  It isn't like more services were being provided.  Over the last year, it seems like every two months or so, TWC would take another channel or two away.

We couldn't take it anymore.

At the turn of the new year, I told M that it was his job to make cable go away.  I like to watch the morning or evening news.  Other than that, shows could be watched on the internet.

He checked out several antenna and converter boxes.

He checked out Apple TV.

He checked out Fire TV.

What did we land on?  We now have Amazon Fire TV with an Amazon Prime subscription.  He also bought a Homeworx converter box/antenna set.  With the converter box/antenna alone, we have MORE channels than we had with cable.  I might also add that the reception is crystal clear where with TWC, it was some sort of snowy reception all of the time.

How much did this project set us back?

Well, we bought the prime subscription when it went on sale in January for $72.  We bought the Fire TV the next day when they happen to have that on sale for $84.  Both of these items purchased on sale, with free ship (because of the prime subscription) together cost $25.00 out of pocket.  We were able to use our Cashback bonus with our Discover Card which made it so very affordable.  The antenna and converter box cost $42.  To toss cable ended up costing us $67.

We'll take it.

I will say that if you are TV addicted, this is NOT the solution for you.  We get local channels, but don't pull in Fox.  That's fine.  There are some shows that we'll have to watch on the internet but I'm quite okay to NOT have Fox News.  We pull in shows, but some rotate and are available at some times, but not others.  (Netflix does the same thing is what I've heard.)

It works for us.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Not the Apple Cinnamon Cream of Wheat from my youth.

I have a love of the packaged Apple Cinnamon Cream of Wheat from my youth.  It was and still is my very favorite.

I haven't been able to find it.  Not just recently.  I haven't been able to find it in years.  

Last week, we were in Amish Country.  I found a giant bag of plain Cream of Wheat.  "I can try to make it myself!"  I got to work.

I was on the hunt for dried apples.  I couldn't find those, either.  I did find freeze dried apples on the Target clearance rack yesterday.  It's kind of what I wanted anyhow.  I didn't want the squishy dried ones.  

I individually bagged 15 servings.  (I made a total of 16 servings, but had to test drive one.)

It doesn't look like the Cream of Wheat of my youth.  It's a bit more cinnamony than what I had, too.  It is still good.  

Amy's Fake Out Apple Cinnamon Cream of Wheat

1/4 cup plain cream of wheat
1 T raw sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
1 1/2 slices freeze dried apple, chopped

Dump your ingredients in a snack bag.  You'll have to figure out how much water you like.  I'm not for watery cream of wheat.  Boil your water and have at it.  

Enjoy!  

A case of the bends.

I came home and asked M if he was fiddling with the downspout.

"Um, no."

"Then you probably should come out and see this."

The downspout has filled with water that froze, it bowed the pipe away from the house so far that it actually broke away from the brackets that held it in place.  

We just have a little bit of a sway problem going on here.  

I guess that we'll add that to the repair list whenever the weather breaks.  

Friday, February 20, 2015

To all of the college students complaining that they have class during the cold spell.

From the local university where K takes swim lessons:
Closing the University because of low temperatures 
Rarely does the University close because of low temperatures alone.  
The safety of all students, faculty and staff is our primary consideration in determining if the campus should remain open. No other factors supersede that one. If we receive information that weather conditions, or any other risks, pose a significant threat to the safety of our campus community, we will act appropriately and immediately. 
We serve a different clientele than our colleagues in elementary and secondary education. Our students and employees are adults. They are capable of preparing themselves for inclement weather and for deciding if weather conditions and their own personal circumstances warrant altering their schedules because of the weather. 
Second, we offer a service for which its students pay directly. If we close, we temporarily deny that service to students – including the many who live on or near campus. So, if our observations and consultations indicate that conditions do not present an undue threat to the campus community, we are obliged to provide the service that we have promised to our students. In other words, our job is to keep the University open.

 I get it.  It's cold.


This is the e-mail we got yesterday afternoon from the Director of the Aquatics Program:
Bundle up, bring your hair dryer!  We will still have our Thursday night swim lessons as scheduled.  Stay warm, Diane
When I was in college, it was -25 F.  (That was PRIOR to the windchill being factored in.)  Kent was the ONLY school in the area NOT to close.  Did I complain?  No.  I suited up and went to class.

Did it kill me?  No.

Here's the thing, you ARE in college.  That means that you are an adult now.

You ARE in college.  Do you know how many people would love to BE in college, but can't afford it?

I was reading through the Twitter feed while I was watching my dear child swim back and forth.  College kids were complaining.
It's ridiculous.  The university isn't watching out for our safety.   
If I wasn't graduating this spring, I would go to a different college that cares about their students. 
We need to text and e-mail the professors to tell them that it is too cold for class.  If we all do it, then maybe they'll cancel on their own.
Really?  You are going to flood the e-mail and text of your professor to get them to cancel class?  :tip of the head in confusion:  Um, aren't you a big girl and big boy right now?

Suck it up.  Go to class.  Wear some more layers.  Leave more time.  Skip through from building to building like I did.  You'll survive.  Look at it as the Amazing Race, only with this one, you get a degree at the end.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Feeding the birds, travels through blizzard conditions, a trip to the pharmacy, being ID'd for shoe glue and other happenings.

The soundtrack you should be playing for this particular post would be Joseph Arthur.  :)  Just kidding.  It's just what I'm listening to while I write it.  I do highly recommend it if you haven't listened to it!  

Onward.

There have been busy weeks and days off for cold and all that.  

Last weekend, we traveled out to Alliance to hand feed chickadees at a park there.  We won't be giving free press to that particular park because the people working there had the personality of wallpaper paste.  It was much like the woman we encountered when we visited the NPS Johnstown Flood Memorial.  There are few parks we will NOT visit.  The few we have marked off the list are those with people who just don't care about the people visiting and helping them TO KEEP THEIR JOB.   My husband is a public servant and just doesn't understand why people can be so very crappy in that job.  He is thankful every single day that he has the job he has.  He knows that in this day and age of technology, he's a bit of a dinosaur that can easily be replaced by an app.  (Not in our eyes because he is truly VERY good at his job.  Still . . . ) 

At any rate, we tempted the thick layers of ice, hiked about 3/4 mile into the woods and found the site.  We didn't find the human handing out seed.  There were no signs.  It wasn't obvious to figure out what was going on.  We went into a little shack that they had and we may or may not have helped ourselves to the trash can of sunflower seeds.  We went out to start with the feeding and a somewhat disheveled woman, looking much like the bird lady from Mary Poppins, came up with a reused peanut butter jar of diced peanuts.  (I really though she'd say, "Tuppence a bag!")  Instead she said, "Oh, I see you brought your own seed!"  "Kind of."  

You have to stand still with your arm out.  It seems silly, but your arm starts to hurt rather quickly.

My girl had her handful.

M was the first with a visitor.  It turns out that he would be the only one of us.  Those chickadees are quick.  Not the greatest photo, but it's all I could do!

You see, there was a boy scout troop that came in ahead of us.  Now, this isn't to say anything against boy scout troops.  The boys do great things and can truly be wonderfully behaved.  These children were not those children.  They were loud.  They were running around.  They were throwing snowballs.  They scared all of the birds away.  In fact, we moved to the bridge to try to get away from them. 

My beautiful girl here trying to be patient.  Neither she or I corner the market on patience.  

In other news, these were hand-me-downs from my girl.  They are just slightly big on me.  I just figured this might the place I state that we can no longer share shoes.  Girlie wears an 8 1/2 and I wear a 6 1/2.  These happen to be Keens that run a half size small.  With thick socks, the 7 1/2's fit my feet just fine.  Still, girlie has such big feet!

I admit that we gave up.  K and I couldn't take the snowball fighting and screaming any longer.  I looked over at her and said, "If that were me, my mom would have beat my butt."  She smirked.  The ladies standing somewhat within earshot laughed and agreed.  

Yesterday was our 18th anniversary.  We had plans to go snowshoeing at The Wilderness Center.  We packed up the snowshoes.  We headed out.  People kept talking about how cold it was supposed to be.  We had planned for that.  What we hadn't planned for was this.  

The true white out photo is on my phone.  I had to stop a few times, put my hazards on and hope that no one hit us.  This photo is the same one as below.  They would come and in a minute or so, the white out would be gone.  Still, the driving was nasty.  

Add to that that we were in -- Amish County-- home to the unmarked 90 degree turns.

Oh, yes.  The 90 degree surprise turns about wiped us out.  The road suddenly disappeared.  "Where'd the road go?"  I asked M, then suddenly I found it.  "It's a curve!"  The traction alarm was going off.  We were sliding.  I was hanging onto the steering wheel with one hand, tempted to shift into neutral with my right.  My foot was on the break, but I didn't want to slam on it and cause it to be any worse. There was one very small, low arrow on a sign in the middle of the 90 degree turn.  Um, thanks for that.  I didn't want to shift into neutral because I thought the traction control wouldn't work.  It seemed like we were sliding for minutes, but truly, it was only seconds.  The traction control kicked in and stopped our sideways slide.  We weren't head first sliding.  Oh, that would be too easy.  we were sliding sideways across the turn with my drivers door clearly where the front end of my RAV should be.  She corrected it.  She pulled us all around.  She saved us from biting the ditch.  :shakes of the head:  Wow!  We did have a nice day and I was able to buy all of my spices in bulk.  I found that my spices were old and frankly, some were dead.  


Sunday brought us negative temperature weather.  I guess it got to -12 F last night.  What are my people doing today?  Oh, they are headed to the Columbus Zoo because it is free admission day.  :shakes of the head:  They wore so many clothes that K looked like Randy from A Christmas Story.  They promised to be down there for a few hours and to head back up before the storm hits.

I have a cold.  It isn't severe, but it's enough to make me feel a little funky.  Yesterday, we were stuck going to the Big Box of Blue.  M needed his cold drug of choice-- Advil Cold & Sinus.  I pop up and asked the pharmacy tech, "Can we get some Mucinex with that?"  "You have to purchase it separately with a different ID."  I told her that I understood.  She laughed and said, "Not that you guys look like you are a problem."  "We aren't.  I promise, I really do have a cold!  Besides, my teeth aren't rotting out of my face and my skin is surprisingly clear."  "Honey, you would be buying generic in the biggest box you could and would be faking a cough."  (To note, I bought the smallest box of Mucinex that they had.)  So we suited up with our cold remedies, K and I perused the leftover Valentine's items for Easter egg stuffings.  (I watch what I buy, but the kids don't care.)

M threw some shoe glue into the basket.  We were going as a line of ducklings towards the Kleenex.  M disappeared.  It's okay, because I had to stand and patiently wait for the tissue display.

There was a woman and her 9 year old daughter.  They had the entire display either blocked with the cart or the woman body blocking the rest of it as she dug through all of the boxes.  She looked up and saw me standing there.  I admit that a cold in combination with a delightful case of PMS may not have caused me to give her the loving look that our Lord would have preferred.  I think she was struck with a sick look combined with bewilderment.  "Oh, I just don't know why but I just had to dig through all of the designs!"  I reached over, grabbed the massive 4 pack and said, "Ma'am, I just need to wipe my nose."  Grant you, they are the marbly ugly Kleenex boxes, but I'm going through them so fast that it doesn't matter as long as the box doesn't empty out at the wrong time.

We went to the cash lane.  We obeyed the sign that talked about 20 items or less.  The girl flagged us and our basket over.  I was ID'd for the shoe glue.  "Are you 18?"  I laughed.  The gray streaks on the top of my head might suggest, but I told her, "I promise, we have shoes to repair.  No huffing at my house!"  She did laugh.  Just doing her job.  I get it.  She managed to somehow overcharge us for Airborne.  She caught it and charged us again.  She overcharged us by over $9.50.  She charged for 3 packages when we got 1.  Of course, I didn't find that out until we got to the car.  We schlepped everything back in.  They cheerfully refunded the money, but still . . . Rrrr.  I know, I know.  It's another reason of why I don't shop there.

K had a "snow" day on Friday for cold.  I think that they called that one too soon.  I envision another "snow" day for cold this week.  Never mind that they have today and Friday off anyhow.  I see Thursday being possible.  Who knows?

Finally, my husband handed me a bag of chocolate yesterday.  "No, really.  I bought this for you.  Please eat it.  If it runs out, I promise that I can buy you more.  Please.  Have chocolate."  Bless his heart.

Be warm!