Editorial: Snowstorm(s) of the ages

It was hard to enjoy the numerous snow days since our plans to provide an earlier February issue were obliterated. Our newer plans were pointless after about ten seconds of making them as more storms came around. Through compromise and schedule conflicts, a February Sports Edition was born. The snow may have ruined our plans, but we were allowed to dwell in our creative process. If the snow days harmed our plans as a single class, it is scary to think about the ripple throughout the city.

The students were starting to think that they would continue the school year without a snow day, until right after midterm week. The possibility of a snow day was introduced, and soon pupils of all ages came together to hope for more time to procrastinate on the thing that could wait another day. A snow day has the power to extinguish a student’s motivation, and with the lack of full weeks and the chance of more snow, who can blame them?

The snow started piling- it was relentless, blinding. Soon, Mayor Gary Christenson tweeted “No school for the rest of the week! #JanuaryVacation,” which spanned from Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015 to the following Monday. This was only the beginning.

The snow days gave students a chance to breathe after the intense week of exams and the end of quarter two. Were the students going to be productive during the week long break? Probably not. But there was not much that could be done. Teachers had to alter their teaching schedules, and accommodate for the three, (later five), consecutive snow days. However, the problem became more than just rescheduling when the school reached a total of seven snow days.

Safety.

Driving to school is hard with the bumpy roads and worsened traffic. However, walking is abominable. Sidewalks were left unshoveled, but not due to lack of maintenance, but rather the abundance of such unorthodox snow. Cities in Massachusetts rarely experience such high levels of precipitation, but the efforts to clean were made a priority. Very few accommodations were made, but the students (and teachers) of Malden trudged on. Currently, the ice froze over  after it melted, making the walk to school in a slippery and dangerous mess.

Because life involves more than homeroom and core classes, getting to school was not the only problem regarding transportation. The MBTA is still recovering from the mess that the snow made, and it will take a few more weeks for it to be fully functional, only if there are no more snowstorms. At this point, MBTA goers stopped questioning the state of the entire system, and instead started questioning their insanity.

Budget cuts.

Cleaning the snow after at least two severe snowstorms is costly, and there is uncertainty whether or not the high school will directly suffer. The answer, as of right now, is no - the high school’s finances are not affected by the snow. Cleaning snow off the road and areas around the city, such as city hall, the library, the senior city, is the responsibility of the city, and the high school, as well as every other school in Malden, have no part in the snow removal process.

The beginning of January felt like a sweet promise to “every Mayor in Massachusetts” because the idea of snow was nonexistent, and finally, the money for snow removal could have been used for other days, which Superintendent David DeRuosi commented on. However, because this dream ended with feet-high snow banks, the budget for each city changed. Malden, specifically, will not know its official budget until Charlie Baker, the new governor of Massachusetts, releases the contents of Chapter 70, a program that distributes money to K-12 public education equally to attempt quality education for all.

Mayor Gary Christenson was able to give me more of an idea of what the city is going through. He mentions Bob Knox, the Public Works Director, who, in his 21 years, “has never seen back-to-back 20 inch storms before.” The city estimates that the cost of the snow will be approximately one-million dollars, “which includes staff, contractors, salt, snow removal services, etc,” but the city will be “reimbursed roughly 75 percent for the first storm.” The costs will not affect the high school.

Malden’s superintendent believes “[everyone involved in the upheaval of snow needs] to move forward as a district.”   

Future weather conditions.

Predicting the weather is never an exact science, but it is clear that the amount of snow that fell during the previous weeks is an abnormal sight. It may be too soon to tell if this is an extreme and harmful weather condition, but according to Environmental teacher Kathleen Maglio, “climate change models have predicted more extreme weather events.” We may not have seen the end of snow.

If the citizens and council leaders lacked the patience they so successfully showed, Malden would still be in ruins. The snow surprised us all, and hopefully it will leave us to recover.

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