Princeton Times

News

November 2, 2012

Officials: Canceling class starts at 3 a.m.

PRINCETON — It’s a rite of passage for students in Mercer County to wake up on a snowy day and check to see if school is cancelled or on a two-hour delay.

The process to make decision begins very early in the morning. Director of Transportation Fred Scott and Superintendent Deborah Akers both travel roads through out the county to determine the risk to students and bus drivers.

Scott said that his day usually begins at 3 a.m. in the morning on those days.

“I go to Bluefield first,” Scott said. “They usually get hit harder than we do over in Princeton.”

From there, he travels through out the county, especially the higher elevations, looking for a dangerous spots. One road Scott checks frequently is Clover Dew Dairy Road in Green Valley.

He doesn’t know why, but that road stays icier than some of the others in the county. Another road he checks is Ceres Road, also in Green Valley. Most mornings, he’ll also travel toward Oakvale and Flat Top to check those areas.

“I know that if we get three inches here in Princeton,” Scott said. “They’re going to have at least six in Flat Top.”  

Before making a recommendation to Akers, Scott checks with the state transportation department and the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, Va., to see their predictions.

If the weather has hit some areas harder than others, Scott usually recommends a two-hour delay to allow bus drivers in those areas to get to see the road in daylight. He added that in snowy conditions, drivers are mandated to use chains on their buses.

Once Scott calls the superintendent and makes a recommendation for a cancellation or a two hour delay, she usually calls Assistant Superintendents Joe Turner and Rick Ball. They in turn call Data and Information Systems Director Kellan Sarles.

Sarles then has to let 11,000 people know about the change. This has gotten a lot easier with the use of automated software. Sarles said she has the option to call all employees and students and let them know or just some of them.

She also uses the West Virginia Department of Education’s website to add Mercer County’s decision to the rest of the counties in the state. From there, it’s picked up by local media and broadcast through out the county so the kids can check their televisions and radios when they wake up.

— Contact Matt Christian at mchristian@ptonline.net.

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