At the young hour of four o’clock in the morning, Mr. Gary Leimkuehler puts on his coat, goes outside in the snow, and starts his truck.
It is his job to determine whether or not the roads are safe for students to drive to school.
“Usually I get up, look outside, and determine whether I need to drive or not. Once we start driving - you know our district 374 square miles - so the weather could look much differently from the north to the south, and that’s the challenging part,” said Mr. Leimkuehler.
This year, the school issued nine phone calls announcing the cancellation of school due to hazardous road conditions or sub-freezing temperatures. While snow days might seem like a break for students, they bring extra work for administration.
“First off, there are multiple people involved [in determining snow day cancellations]. [One of those people is] Dr. Smith, of course, the superintendent. Ultimately, it’s his decision. He and I, [at] about four a.m., consult one another, and it starts with him driving to the north and I drive to the south. Some days, obviously, it’s easier than others, depending on what it looks like. We check forecasts; we check with other superintendents. I’ve driven as many as 75 miles in the morning,” said Leimkuehler.
With the harsh winter Hermann trudged through this year, staff like Mr. Leimkuehler put in numerous hours outside of school to keep the students’ safety as a top priority.
“I always think about if I would want my children driving on these conditions,” said Leimkuehler. “I look for ice; much of it is determined by our secondary roads: the lettered roads and the gravel roads.”
While the drive is long and can be dangerous, Mr. Leimkuehler does it multiple times each winter.
He added, “[We do it] for the safety of all of our kids and our staff. We’ve got staff members that drive from long distances also. We’re always going to err on the side of caution. Always. Because the last thing you want to do is put somebody in danger.”