Huss: Calling snow days no easy decision

Huss: Calling snow days no easy decision

Posted: Thursday, January 27, 2011 9:05 pm
By: Chris Menees, Staff Reporter

By CHRIS MENEES
Staff Reporter
Obion County Director of Schools David Huss admits it’s not always an easy call to make when deciding to cancel classes for incle-ment weather.
Students in the Obion County School System have missed four days as the result of wintry weather so far this school year, which does not count a day when classes were dismissed early.
Huss said the school system has 13 days that can be stockpiled for such instances and currently is not in any danger of having to add days at the end of the school year.
“We’re not in a condition right now where we’re looking at make-up days,” he said.
The process for determining whether school should be canceled usually begins early during any winter storm — with Huss and Larry Parks, the school system’s transportation director, sometimes communicating as early as 3 or 4 a.m. They both venture out to check conditions and talk with the sheriff’s department, since deputies are generally aware of road conditions early on.
“We have to make a judgment call based on conditions,” he said.
Huss explained that less-traveled back roads in rural areas of Obion County are a main concern, adding that not all areas of the county always see the same amounts of snow or ice. For example, the most recent round of winter weather left more snow in the southern end of the county than the Union City area.
“If any part of the county is unsafe to go, we don’t go at all,” he said. “An example is the ice storm a couple years back. The Hornbeak and Obion areas were devastated by it, where South Fulton got maybe a little ice and Union City, too, as far as amounts. It all just depends on the condition of our county roads.”
The county’s school bus drivers are generally on the road by about 6:15 a.m. each day and Huss said a determination about school must be made prior to 6 a.m. in order to notify all employees.
Parents in the Obion County School System are notified of school cancellations through an automated parental notification system that puts the call out to everyone within minutes. Local broadcast news media is also notified.
School officials also have to use caution when inclement weather is forecast during the day and could result in hazardous road conditions before the school day ends. Such an instance occurred one day last week when school was canceled in anticipation of frozen precipitation that materialized by late morning.
“The other day, we would have had to dismiss by 10:30 and that puts parents in a predicament,” Huss said. “We take that into consideration as well. If we err, we’re going to err on the side of caution. We don’t want kids on buses if the road conditions aren’t good and we don’t want to put parents in the predicament of having to make mid-day arrangements for their children.”
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by e-mail at cmenees@ucmessenger.com.

Published in The Messenger 1.27.11

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