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Closing schools-not easy

Superintendents must consider many factors

February 27, 2008
By BOB COUPLAND and JOE GORMAN Tribune Chronicle
As children lie in bed dreaming of a snow day, those who make the decision are wide awake and checking the conditions. On Tuesday, the decision-makers came to different conclusions, allowing some students to remain under the covers while others hustled for buses as usual.

Most school districts in Trumbull County and all in Mahoning County called off school Tuesday after another round of snow blasted the Mahoning Valley with 4.1 inches of snow. Trumbull County school districts that stayed open included Niles, Howland, Champion, Southington and Mathews.

By mid-afternoon, much of the snow was slush.

Niles Superintendent Rocco Adduci said Tuesday that he was driving the roads after 4 a.m. and was on the phone with the Niles Street Department. They assured him the roads would be plowed and salted in time for students to go to school, so he decided to have the schools open.

‘‘As the day wore on, I feel I made the right decision,’’ Adduci said.

The National Weather Service in Cleveland said snow showers are likely today, with areas of blowing snow with an additional accumulation of about 1 inch. There is a 70 percent chance of snow.

A check of area school officials Tuesday reveals they are often awake at 4 a.m. — or earlier — checking out the conditions themselves. They also are in contact with road and police departments as well as their own staff to get a clearer picture of how the weather is affecting their community.

Brookfield Superintendent Stephen Stohla said closing schools always is a tough call, especially because he lives in Alliance and does not experience the local weather first-hand. However, he said he is in constant contact with the district’s transportation supervisor, who drives the area roads. Stohla said if gets a bad report from him, he will cancel school.

He also is in contact with his counterparts in the central part of Trumbull County, who usually consult on weather conditions. He said they usually cancel as a group, but he is not afraid to call off school on his own if his transportation supervisor gives him a bad report on the area roadways.

‘‘I’d rather be safe than sorry,’’ Stohla said.

Each district gets five weather calamity days from the state.

‘‘Whether we have a day left or not is irrelevant,’’ Stohla said. ‘‘If we have to make a day up, we’ll make it up.’’

Southington School Superintendent Frank Danso said he often checks with the superintendents in Champion, Lakeview and Mathews when deciding whether to close schools.

‘‘Part of the decision to keep the schools open is based on the how the roads are. The township and road crews did a very good job clearing the main roads and many side roads on Tuesday,’’ he said

Danso said Southington has used five snow days this year. Any more and the district will have to make those days up. He said when the school district makes its calendar it usually schedules calamity make-up days for the end of the school year.

Warren City Schools Business Manager Mark Donnelly is part of the team that advises on whether school should be canceled because of bad weather. Donnelly said he is sometimes up as early as 2 a.m. checking with the district’s maintenance staff as well as the city road and police departments.

‘‘The biggest concern is the safety of the kids to and from school,’’ Donnelly said.

Article Photos

Van Moorehead, 8, left, and Tyler Feezle, 7, both of Warren, roll a large snowball Tuesday at Packard Park in Warren. Other children enjoyed sledding down the park’s hill. Schools were closed in Warren and many other districts because of more than 4 inches of snow in the area. However, closing classes was a split decision as other Mahoning Valley schools remained open. For this and other photos visit



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