Winter Weather Frenzy


A snow storm hit Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri last year. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

It’s around this time of the year when students vigorously refresh the @bvschools Twitter account, place spoons under their pillows and pray that the once-green fields surrounding North become covered in blankets in white. But realistically, how much snow can we expect for the winter?

According to the 2015 Long Range Weather Forest from the Farmer’s Almanac, the winter temperatures will be lower than usual while precipitation and snowfall will be above normal. This is true for not only Kansas, but about three-quarters of the country. Typically, Kansas receives about 20 inches of snow each year from October to April.

To decide whether to call a snow day or not, Blue Valley contacts other districts in the Johnson County area to see if their weather conditions are just as bad.

“Since a number of our staff members live outside the district, it helps us to know if the conditions are different in those areas for staff traveling into work,” Al Hanna, Deputy Supt. of Administrative services said.

Obviously several inches of snow can close school to hazardous snow conditions, but there are other wintery factors that can have an effect of whether school is closed or not.

“We did close school for three straight days when our area had an ice storm and many people and schools were without power,” Hanna said.  “Wind chill can be a major factor in decisions.”

To keep the schools open for as many days as possible, the district has to meet guidelines regarding the the temperature of the classrooms by overcoming logistical problems.

“The school district strives to create temperatures [in classrooms] that are as even as possible and within district guidelines,” Dave Hill, Executive Director of Facilities and Operations said. “Just as there are hot/cold spots in your own house due to interior/exterior rooms,age of home, etc., we face those same issues in our schools and district buildings.”

That being said, the Blue Valley school district works hard and pays a lot to keep our classrooms heated during the harsh weather. The total amount the district spends on utilities for all facilities for heating, cooling, lighting and electric power for technology and other items is approximately $7,170,000 annually. The district also has technicians and effective technology to streamline the process.

“The school district utilizes an Emergency Management System (EMS) that monitors temperature set point, humidity, fresh air flow and other elements of heating, cooling, and ventilation,” Hill said. “The district employs four full-time HVAC technicians that are constantly maintaining more than 50 district buildings covering more than 4,300,000 square feet.”

Although the district cannot keep the school open every day, communication methods such as “School Center,” “ParentVUE” and “Synergy” help students and teachers alike worry less about missed class times. However, teachers do have to keep in mind that AP test dates do not move, so they still have to make sure they can get all their required lesson plans in before the exam in May.

“I typically only have to [send assignments] with my AP classes because we don’t have the flexibility of moving the AP test date; we still have to get the information covered in time. In my regular history classes, we can move stuff around and I can adjust the curriculum more than the AP class,” Skiles said.

While freshmen, sophomores and juniors may be required to stay in school longer, seniors will still get out on the same date every year, which means that the seniors can ultimately enjoy the snow days without worrying about them eating up the summer.

Weather experts are saying the amount of snow the country can expect could be many times what it normally gets. Some helpful tips for the winter include keeping extra things in your car incase of emergencies such as gloves, scrapers, sweaters, blankets, candles and matches.



A snow storm hit Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri last year. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.
A snow storm hit Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri last year. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

Extra tips to keep your car defrosted in the winter

  1. Lay a towel across your front and back windshields at night so in the morning your car won’t have frost all over it.
  2. Always keep a scraper handy.
  3. Cover side mirrors with plastic bags to keep the ice off.