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School officials decide on when to close schools

POSTED: January 29, 2008 5:03 a.m.

GAINESVILLE — Ahh, a snow day. Good news for students and often a tough call for superintendents.

School chiefs in Georgia don’t have guidelines or any kind of scientific manual to aid them in deciding whether to call off school.

They rely on their eyes, scanning weather forecasts and transportation types to help them in the task.

Will Schofield, Hall County’s superintendent, leans on Jewel Armour, executive operations director, and his relationship with the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.

Armour stays in touch, overnight as needed, with authorities to find out "if there’s any ice on the roads."

"And if we have any ice and snow in even any of the rural
areas, then we don’t have school in Hall County," Schofield said.

"One thing that makes (Hall) so different is that we have such different municipalities and rural areas, from down in Flowery Branch and Braselton all the way up into Clermont and Lula," he added.

"Sometimes it’s deceptive when we have to call off schools."

Superintendent Steven Ballowe doesn’t have such a wide area to consider when he decides whether to close schools in the Gainesville city system.

But he said he still puts a lot of thought into the matter.

It "all hinges on the safety of transportation," Ballowe said. "If children can get to school safely, we will hold school on time. If children can get to school safely, with a delay to overcome ice issues or darkness as (was the case Thursday), then we will have school."

The issue becomes more problematic in North Georgia’s mountain counties, where back roads and higher elevations can make for a dangerous mix.

"I assign certain employees specific roads to check," said Dewey Moye, superintendent of Lumpkin County schools.

He consults with the sheriff’s office and emergency services.

"I also ride as many roads as possible," Moye said.



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