Snow forces schools to use another snow day

Friday, February 11, 2011

Shortening spring break is an alternative if snow forces Marshall County schools to use more snow days than allotted, according to the director of schools.

Director Roy Dukes plans to consult with the Board of Education during its 6:30 p.m. Thursday meeting, he said Wednesday. Spring break is scheduled for March 28 - April 1.

Several hours after Dukes explained the option can be considered under new business, he decided roads were too slick that night to risk school bus transportation on Thursday morning when, as it turned out, almost all Middle Tennessee schools were closed, too.

Dukes announced his decision while driving snow-slick streets Wednesday night.

"This will be our eighth day" without classes because of snow this winter, he said by mobile phone at about 7:15 p.m. "We have two more" snow days left in the school calendar.

Dukes tries to tell Nashville TV stations by 8:30-9:30 p.m. so parents will know and can make arrangements for the next day, he said

But, depending on the weather, it could be early in the morning "I got up at 3 a.m. last time," the schools director said.

He considers a variety of conditions, looking for hills on bus routes and whether there's ice or deep snow, conditions faced during this winter's weather.

"You worry about the children not getting to school, but you worry about them not properly supervised at home, too," Dukes said.

Meanwhile, the school system's transportation supervisor, Michael Frey, said he's realized that even when schools are open, many children are getting themselves ready for school in the morning because parents are already gone, or are coming home to an empty house in the afternoon.

While this winter's weather seems to have strained the schedule with so many snow days, it has been worse.

"A few years back, we missed more" days because of snow, Dukes said. "And one year, we went 30 minutes longer" during the remaining school days.

That ended school for students at 3:30 p.m., instead of 3 p.m., he said.

"Hopefully, we'll have some warming Thursday," so classes may be held Friday, he said Wednesday night, "but, that's wishful thinking."

At press time, no decision had been made about classes on Friday. Go to for late developments.

Nashville had two inches of snow Wednesday night, according to various reports, although that's an average.

On the Bedford side of Marshall County, only half an inch of snow accumulated, according to National Weather Service Meteorologist Bobby Boyd.

Lewisburg's Ellington Airport reported 10 degrees Thursday morning. The high there was 30 degrees on Wednesday.

Asked about conditions to be judged last night for a decision on school classes today, Boyd noted ice and snow "won't melt and [evaporate] in the next few days."

These low temperatures are not unusual during the first two weeks of February in Middle Tennessee, the meteorologist said, paging through his records. On Feb. 5, 2009, the low was five degrees and it was -3 degrees during Feb. 4-5, 1996 in Nashville.

Middle Tennessee has had "seven snow events this winter," he said, forecasting a low of 12 degrees last night. By noon today, the temperatures in Lewisburg could reach about 32 and maybe up to 40 degrees by 3-4 p.m.

A "beautiful" Saturday is forecast by Boyd, who anticipates a high of 46.

Sunday and Monday, it could be about 57 degrees and "We may be looking at 62 by Wednesday," he said; "Maybe even 64 by Thursday, and there's no precipitation in the forecast for seven days."

Tribune staff writers Clint Confehr and Karen Hall collaborated on this story.