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Snow closes some Concord-area schools, but not all

  • Fiona Luce, 8, sleds down a hill at White Park in Concord on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. Luce, who attends Christa McAuliffe School, had a snow day and walked to the park with her mother. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor staff

  • A group of sledders leaves White Park in Concord on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Students are dismissed from Pembroke Academy in Pembroke as snow continues to fall Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. Most capital-area schools closed Tuesday because of the storm, including those in the Concord district, but SAU 53 still held classes. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • An SAU 53 school bus departs Pembroke Academy in Pembroke as snow continues to fall on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. Most capital-area schools closed on because of the storm, including the Concord district. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff



Monitor staff
Wednesday, December 13, 2017

With snow in the forecast, kids usually plan to sleep in. Superintendents, on the other hand, set their alarms early.

SAU 67 superintendent Dean Cascadden was up about 4:30 a.m. – just as the first flakes started to fall – texting back and forth with his peers in Concord, Goffstown, Merrimack Valley and Hopkinton. Cascadden, who oversees schools in Bow and Dunbarton, also checked in with Bow’s road agent, and Precision Weather, a private consultant out of Maine that provides hyper-local weather forecasts and advice.

“Today was the closest you’d get to a 50/50 call,” he said.

But by 5:15 a.m. – Cascadden’s deadline for making these snow-day call – he’d decided schools wouldn’t open that day. Alerts went out via text, email and phone calls to the district’s parents.

That 50/50 call went the other way for some capital-area students. While most schools were closed Tuesday because of the storm, including those in the Concord district, some braved the snow and ice to keep their doors open.

The towns in SAU 53 – Pembroke, Epsom, Chichester, Deerfield, and Allenstown – didn’t cancel school, and neither did Pittsfield, although afternoon and evening events were canceled or rescheduled.

Superintendents have to weigh several factors before making the decision – including how many snow days the district has banked, what the weather will look like at the start and end of the day, and what neighboring districts are doing. Because districts sometimes share programming – some Bow students go to Concord’s technical regional center, for example – and because staff often live in neighboring districts, superintendents often like to make decisions about whether to close or stay open as a block.

Even how early a storm comes in winter can factor into the decision.

“Earlier in the season, people aren’t used to driving in the snow,” Cascadden said.

Tuesday’s storm didn’t see particularly heavy snowfall – just slightly more than 3 inches of wet snow had come down at Concord airport by early afternoon, as precipitation turned to rain, according to the National Weather Service. (Some places up north received as much as 11 inches.)

New Hampshire state troopers had cleared at least six accidents by 10 a.m., but there was no word of major injuries.

But the slick conditions expected with freezing rain in the midafternoon helped push Cascadden to opt to close.

“That ice-rain line was coming right across the Concord area right around dismissal time,” he said.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Lola Duffort can be reached at 369-3321 or lduffort@cmonitor.com.)