Hartington-Newcastle Analyzes Multiple Factors When Deciding on Snow Days

HARTINGTON — Winter weather creates extra precarious situations for large rural school districts.

Hartington-Newcastle’s school district stretches 14 miles north of Hartington and 28 miles east to Newcastle.  With students having to cover such great distances, Superintendent A.J. Johnson faces a challenge when deciding to have school or not.

“There’s so much distance between places, between residences that it takes longer to get those roads cleaned up,” Johnson said.  “They’re also more in the open country so drifting snow is much more of an issue.”

Another issue is considering the new drivers who will be traveling in the inclement weather.

“We know that we have 16, 17, 18-year old kids who may be safe drivers but just don’t have the experience driving in winter weather,” Johnson said.

Johnson and his staff test the road and call contacts to get a good idea of the conditions.  He says that if there’s any doubt about conditions, a snow day will be called.

“I’d much rather err on the side of safety and not have school and try to figure out how we’re going to make that time up, than deal with a student getting hurt,” Johnson said.