How schools go through winter weather cancellation process - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

How schools go through winter weather cancellation process

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

IMBODEN, AR (KAIT) –Many schools in Arkansas and Missouri canceled classes on Monday.  The decision can be difficult for administrators to make, especially when they've already missed several days.  Over at Sloan-Hendrix School District in Imboden they've already missed six days of school because of snow.  About 80% of their students ride the bus to school and more than half of their bus routes are on gravel roads and when snow falls, they often cancel classes.

"We're pretty die hard weather watchers," said Sloan-Hendrix Superintendent Mitch Walton.  "I woke up about 4 o'clock and I left my house and started toward Imboden and the roads were already pretty covered by that time," said Walton.

Walton said the size of their district doubled earlier in the school year when they took in part of the Twin Rivers District.  With more rural roads included in the area they cover, it increases their chance of shutting the school.

"A lot of times we have to close because of rural roads we have in our district because inclement weather causes a lot of slickness on the side roads," said Walton.

When there's a chance school could be closed, Walton and others with the district travel the roads to see if they're passable.

"This is one of the hills that we check regularly coming out of Imboden.  This is Highway 115," said Walton.

"Walton stays in contact with the superintendents at Hillcrest, Highland and other rural districts to find out what their plans are.  Depending on when the weather hits will determine when the schools close.

"If we see on radar that there is inclement weather approaching it gives us a better idea about possibly if we're going to be able to have school or not," said Walton.

The first bus leaves just after six o'clock in the morning so if they are going to cancel school the decision has to be made before then.  With more snow in the forecast, Walton said he will be watching the weather very closely. 

"I've already talked to several other superintendents and we're all concerned about what's coming in and the amount of time they're going to be off the latter part of the week," said Walton.

There are already plans in place to make up missed days.  They will likely be in class for part of spring break, Presidents Day, and possibly Good Friday.  If they miss more days, those will be tacked on to the end of the school year.

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