Why was there school today? Or, why no delay?

by Jack White on January 23, 2012

That’s what a lot of you were probably wondering. There was ice. There was fog. Sidewalks were slippery.

So we asked. Here’s the response from Steve Guthrie, Superintendent of Carroll County Public Schools .

It’s an interesting response, thorough, and somewhat reassuring. I’m wondering, though, does it always make sense to make the decision county wide? Aren’t conditions sometimes more severe locally?

Thanks for expressing your concern. There is no question that it was a difficult decision this morning. Please understand that four Transportation Services Department officials were on the roads this morning from 3:00 a.m. to 5:00 am. to survey the roads. Each section of the county was driven to determine if the roads were properly prepared for the weather. Transportation Services Department staff was in constant contact with weather stations, county and state government staff, police, and transportation officials in other counties, as well as each other, during the road and weather assessment.

While on the road, the following factors were used to develop the recommendation today’s decision to open on time:

  • Existing road conditions across the entire county.
  • Amount of snow and ice that has accumulated, whether it will continue, and the amount of time required for road crews to clear county roadways.
  • Air temperature and road temperature.
  • Weather predictions – the school system prefers not making a decision based on weather predictions, which are not always accurate; however, weather predictions are considered in combination with existing conditions.
  • School parking lots, school sidewalks and school bus loops.
  • Other traffic – other traffic can slide into buses or make waiting at bus stops dangerous.
  • Will observed conditions likely improve or deteriorate?

Yesterday, our maintenance crews visited every school in the county to make sure that all parking lots and sideways were properly prepared for schools to open today on time. In addition, we re-salted the schools at 5:00 am. this morning ensure that we would be ready for bus and vehicle traffic.

My crews reported to me that our roads and school parking lots were ready for school to open on time. I understand the Federal Government did delay opening their offices last night in anticipation of inclement weather. However, I cannot make a determination about school in Carroll County for a decision that is made mostly in response to traffic conditions in Washington D.C.

Thanks again for writing to express your concern. I understand that not everyone agrees with the decision to open, close, or delay the opening of school.

Stephen H. Guthrie
Superintendent of Schools
Carroll County Public Schools

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Dennis Beard January 23, 2012 at 11:05 am

Sounds like a COMMON SENSE decision was made…students and staff will get the benefits in JUNE….

debbie devincent January 23, 2012 at 11:07 am

I respect the difficulty of making the call for delays and inclement weather, and realize that everyone will not always come to the same conclusion when making that determination. However, the one factor that seems to be left out of this equation on a regular basis is the safety of walkers and the sidewalks/roads those going to the busstop and/or school. Is there any consideration to implement that factor as well as road and school lot conditions?

Jack White January 23, 2012 at 11:13 am

Good question, Debbie. A lot of people were falling down today. JW

cathy January 23, 2012 at 11:54 am

Where my daughter goes to school was still a mess. So I think it was a bad call. They should have been 2hrs late…

Annie January 23, 2012 at 7:32 pm

I personally observed two adults/staff members fall in the parking lot, as well as several students at 7:20 this morning – well after your 5am “all clear”. I also observed the sidewalks ON SCHOOL grounds being salted at 7:20 – as they were COMPLETELY iced over. Obviously you received some erroneous information from Liberty HS custodial staff. Also, my son has first period gym, and the bridge between the parking lot and gym was completely iced over. Students were told to “walk carefully” as they were out of salt. Is CCPS planning to pay medical bills for broken bones? How about the numerous accidents involving students on the roads this morning? I think you did not want to disrupt secondary finals schedules and chose not to delay for the sake of convenience. A very poor call indeed.

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