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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Late start safer for students

Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2008, at 7:49 AM

Should school have been delayed this morning?

Put yourself in school officials' shoes. A winter winter advisory's in effect until noon for a mix of freezing rain and sleet changing to all rain by mid-morning with afternoon highs in the 40s. Termperatures are hovering near the freezing mark.

Roads in Shelbyville are just wet about 5:30 p.m., with a few icy spots in driveways.

And a choice has to be made.

By 5:45 law enforcement has had one report of an ice-caused accident on Sims Road west of Shelbyville. A deputy on the scene is asking a dispatcher to notify School Superintendent Ed Gray and the county school bus garage of road conditions.

Before 7 we're receiving reports at the T-G newsroom of multiple icy spots on Warners Bridge Road. At 7:40 we're hearing a report of a vehicle off the road on Highway 130 West between Pleasant Grove and Richmond, and another report that Warners Bridge Road was "covered" with ice.

And between 6:30-8 a.m. we hear two reports of accidents on Coop Road near Deason, one a rollover, with emergency personnel reporting "slick" conditions.

Those who decide on school openings or closings have tough choices to make in iffy conditions. But it seems that delaying school openings by one or two hours would have been a safe choice.

Backing the dispatcher: Another accident was being investigated early this morning on Arnold Road, the hilly road north of Shelbyville. The wreck was initially dispatched per the caller's information as Arnold "Lane", a road just east of Shelbyville. A deputy asked the dispatcher to clarify the location. The dispatcher contacted the caller to verify the location and it was Arnold Road.

The com center's taken some hits lately, but this morning was a prime example of callers misidentifying locations due to too many roads with similar names. Dispatchers obviously have it rough sometimes trying to clarify information from excited, and sometimes confused, callers. They're not always to blame for misinformation.


Comments
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I think the superintendent should have taken my route to the babysitter and work this morning. Ya wanna know if the roads are gonna be slick...take a ride down warner bridge, keep going through card road and proceed a little further down rattle snake lodge. It took me about 45 minutes to drive 15 miles to the babysitter this morning. And the schools were open and running on time...that is just crazy. At the very least it should have been a 2 hour delay.

-- Posted by LauraSFT on Tue, Jan 22, 2008, at 8:13 AM

Two hours late would have been a better call this morning. I left at 6:00, there was slush on my windshield.

Is there too much fear of a backlash in making these decisions? Who cares who gets mad because schools were late in the interest of erring on the side of caution? People need to stop griping when school officials decide to close/start late/release early.

-- Posted by Jacks4me on Tue, Jan 22, 2008, at 8:30 AM

It seems lately no matter what the school does or doesn't do it sends people into a rage. The system is trying to make the best possible calls on whether to go on schedule, start late or not go at all. The superintendent is responsible for over 7,000 students plus teachers and support staff and the weather is the most unpredictable force there is. Even if you agreed or disagreed with the call this morning, stop and think what you would have done before bashing Mr. Gray and the transportation team. It is not an easy job but someone has to do it.

-- Posted by Go Figure on Tue, Jan 22, 2008, at 8:47 AM

Yes, at least an hour late would have been a good idea. I feel for our rural bus drivers when the weather gets bad.

-- Posted by mmp84 on Tue, Jan 22, 2008, at 9:11 AM

I guess it looks like I am griping about the decision made this morning. I apologize.

Is there a standard used when making these decisions, or is it just 'look and see'?

-- Posted by Jacks4me on Tue, Jan 22, 2008, at 9:16 AM

It has been my understanding that the Superintendent, the transportation supervisor, the bus garage mechanics and maybe a few other individuals go out to designated areas and physically check the road conditions. They also listen to police reports from officers that are out patroling. They try to make the decision by 5:00 to 5:30 am but like today it didn't really get started until then.......if they had called the schools off and then by 7:00 it was just rain everyone would have been unhappy.......send them on with drivers using their discretion and going slow and allowing buses to arrive late if needed was an alternative. I know some of the people who help make these decisions and they take it very seriously and their main goal is the safety of every child.

-- Posted by Go Figure on Tue, Jan 22, 2008, at 9:32 AM

I thought the standard for calling school closing was the brick method

You know: They have a brick outside and if there are 2 snowflakes on it, schools close :>)

I did see where Moore County closed their schools for today though and I couldn't figure out why...but of course I didn't see ice on the roads probably because I don't go to work til 9.

-- Posted by Dianatn on Tue, Jan 22, 2008, at 9:33 AM

Dianatn

For someone who claims their daughter is a teacher you don't seem to have much respect or confidence in her profession or supervisors/co-workers. I think the brick comment was un-called for.

-- Posted by Go Figure on Tue, Jan 22, 2008, at 10:18 AM

I don't claim she is a teacher...she is a teacher:

and the brick method is an ongoing joke

So lighten up!

Teachers do not make the decision whether they go to school or not..and if you ask if I have confidence in the school board...NOPE, it has NOTHING to do with the teachers.

-- Posted by Dianatn on Tue, Jan 22, 2008, at 10:34 AM

Diana, I thought the brick comment was hillarious! =) Just my personal opinion though.

-- Posted by LauraSFT on Tue, Jan 22, 2008, at 10:38 AM

The roads seem to be about the same at 9:30am as it was at 7:30am, so I don't think it would matter that much as far as opening 1-2 hours late.

Although I did manage to slip and fall as I was walking up the side stairs in the parking lot at East Side. I think it was more The mud they got on the first step going up. My daughter said "MAMMA" ARE YOU ALRIGHT? I got up trying to figure out, how in the world did I get down there, I didn't think it was slippery; but as I walked in the building my shoes were slippery enough to slide across the floor. I'm thinking it was mud (not sure).

When I got back to the car I seen were I stepped at. There's alot of mud on the first step going up, I got in the car and my teenage son was "Laghing" saying please don't do that again. We kind of laugh about it, I told him I couldn't believe I fell it happened so fast. He Laughed some more. : ]

I hope everyone else was safe.

-- Posted by Momof3&3step&1gran on Tue, Jan 22, 2008, at 11:04 AM

I live in the North part of Bedford County and sleet was coming pretty steady at 4:00 am this morning when I left. The sidewalk at my house was slick at that time, but the bridges were the only part of the road that I traveled that could be considered "slick". I don't think I would of delayed school opening based on what I encountered this morning at 4:00. I headed North on 231 toward Murfreesboro, so I can't speak for other portions of the county. I did call my teenage son and instruct him to be very cautious when driving to school.

-- Posted by tgreader on Tue, Jan 22, 2008, at 11:23 AM

David, I could agree with you on callers misidentifying locations due to too many roads with similar names, if we had 911, but the com center spends a lot of money to be able to have E-911 which is suppose to tell you where the call is coming from. This is how they do call back when they have a 911 hangup. This was the big selling point to going with E-911 when there was already 911 in the city when the com center was formed.

The deputy should have not have to ask the dispatcher to clarify the location. The dispatcher job is to have already verified the location. A car maybe easy to turn around, but a big firetuck on a rural road is another story.

There is just not enough time in a call, for someone to take the time to ask a dispatcher to do what they should already be trained to do.

-- Posted by Lower Taxes Please on Tue, Jan 22, 2008, at 6:14 PM

im not sure how bad the roads were but there were several accidents due to the conditions. so maybe school should have been post poned an hour or so..i know when i was in school we got out for the smallest flurries which was fine with me. what kid dont like bein out of school but it does complicate things for parents sometimes so there should be a very well managed thought out system to deciding about school closings.

and at least the kids arent having to wwalk to school bare foot in the snow uphill bothways like all our great grandparents did haha.. i love those stories

-- Posted by someonecares on Tue, Jan 22, 2008, at 11:09 PM


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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.