Updates made to 2023-24 school year calendar

Following one of the snowiest months of January on record for the Quad Cities, Geneseo Community Unit School District #228 has updated its calendar for the 2023-24 school year.

Geneseo’s Board of Education has approved changing the last day of student attendance for the current school year to Tuesday, June 4, a reflection of the school calendar first approved in February of 2022 and a result of making up the required five emergency days as per school code.

The BOE also approved making up the sixth emergency day on Monday, April 1. Whereas that date was previously designated as the last day of Easter break, there will now be student attendance on April 1.

Making the decision to close school due to snow, ice or extreme cold isn’t something that Superintendent Dr. Adam Brumbaugh takes lightly–nor does he enjoy it.

“There is no part of my job I look less forward to than making the decision whether or not to have school,” says Brumbaugh. “Especially this year, we came back from holiday break and everyone was anxious to return to their normal routine. My own family was no exception.”

Brumbaugh continues, “However, when weather and road conditions are an issue, we have to prioritize keeping all of our students and staff safe.”

The alerts come early, usually around 5:00 or 5:15 a.m. Sometimes, if the forecast is particularly ominous, the decision is made the night before. Regardless of when word comes that school has been canceled, most parents agree that it’s an unwelcome disruption to a familiar routine.

When a threatening forecast is on the horizon, there are a number of steps the superintendent takes before arriving at a decision.

Brumbaugh joins at least one conference call–and sometimes multiple–with the Quad Cities National Weather Service. When an early morning decision is being weighed, those calls typically take place the night before and at 4:30 a.m.

He stays in close contact with about a dozen area superintendents to share information about their current conditions and what decisions they intend to make based on them.

Brumbaugh also coordinates with Pinks’ Bus Service as to what their drivers, road commissioners, and even first responders are seeing on the roads, especially on the outskirts of Geneseo’s school district, which at 260-square miles is one of the largest in Illinois.

While on some days a delayed start may make sense rather than a full day cancellation, it’s not always logistically possible to have enough available drivers later in the morning. There is also the unwanted scenario that many local districts faced last month–initially, a 2-hour delay was announced but school ended up being canceled altogether since road conditions had not sufficiently improved in time.

If time allows and it helps arrive at a decision, Brumbaugh himself will navigate the northwestern parts of the district to test first-hand the side roads and subdivision conditions.

“There are several factors and logistical issues that have to be considered, but again, the safety of our students and staff is at the top of the list,” Brumbaugh explains. “That’s what drives the decision I have to make. It’s easy to say with hindsight that a decision was too conservative or too aggressive, as there is always an uncertain nature with weather, but last month’s record snow amounts and freezing rain were impossible to ignore.”