Chelsea School District’s Take on Snow Days


Rose LaForest, Bleu Print Staff

Dr. Julie Helber became the superintendent of Chelsea School District last year. Newly driving students have complained that there were too many days that should have been called off due to dangerous weather conditions that were not during that time. Dr. Helber is concerned about student safety and well being, and has also developed a Graduate Learner profile with staff and administrators to better student learning.  

Students need to know what concerns Dr. Helber when it comes to the well being of students. Many drivers are concerned about their safety when a snow day isn’t called.

About a year and a half ago the Chelsea School Board hired Julie Helber to be the district’s new superintendent. According to, her job as superintendent, in a nutshell, is to makes decisions on educational programs and district spending, and supervise district staff. Many of these jobs go unnoticed to students on a daily basis, but when it comes to her calling snow days students pay close attention.

Her first year at Chelsea made an impression on driving high school students. Leah Pifer, a senior at CHS, said, “Every student would want more snow days, but last year we were the district that never seemed to close.” Students have said that it is more than just a day off. Students argue that, “For some people it is just a day off, but  two thirds of people in Chelsea live on dirt roads, and for most students who have bad cars it’s dangerous.” When asked about this Helber responded that she does everything that she can to ensure student safety. “I worry about newly driving teens on a daily basis and certainly not just during the winter months. I have three children and know what it feels like to have a new driver in the family.  With that said, we rely on parents to make the best decisions for their children when it comes to driving to school.”

“I am constantly monitoring the weather during the winter months.  If we can see inclement weather coming, we can anticipate putting our plan in place.  If the forecast and conditions warrant a cancellation early, we will cancel school the night before to help our parents with young children make plans for care.  If the snow is to come during the night, I set my alarm for 3:00 a.m. to monitor and begin putting plans in place. This involves driving the roads with my transportation director to the most difficult roads in the district. In addition, I am in contact with our operations director and grounds crew to see how the parking lots are coming along.  We also communicate with other transportation directors and superintendents across the county and the Washtenaw County Road Commission to gather additional information.” Dr. Helber explained regarding how she sets things in motion during the snowy months.

Students are always at the forefront of Helber’s decisions. A big thing that she has been developing over the last year and a half is a graduate learner profile. “This profile outlines the competencies we hope our students will possess when they graduate from the district.” The district is still trying to figure out a proper implementation for every level of learning. Her and her team have been and still are working on developing the details behind the District’s Strategic Framework–which aligns with this new Graduate Learner Profile. Helber notes that “I want to maintain this level of excellence and push us toward innovation and continuous improvement. The Graduate Learner Profile, our strategic plan and our commitment to future ready schools will support excellence but the involvement of ours students, staff, parents, community members and administrators will sustain it.”

Dr. Helber assures that her immediate concerns are directed towards Chelsea students and that, “We have an excellent school district and we should all be very proud. Excellence takes effort. We must continue to visualize the future and stay ahead of progress.”