Schools’ weather response mixed

Published 6:00 am Friday, January 8, 2010

Some area school students went on about the reading, writing and’rithmetic Friday, while others got to stay in the comfort of homein spite of the fact that the ghastly weather predicted for theweekend did not pan out.

Students at Copiah-Lincoln Community College and in theBrookhaven and Lincoln County school districts were in sessionFriday, as were Franklin County and Hazlehurst. But Copiah andLawrence county school districts and Copiah Academy and BrookhavenAcademy shut their doors for Friday.

Brookhaven School District Superintendent Lea Barrett said sheconferred with Lincoln County School District Superintendent TerryBrister and Lincoln County Civil Defense Director Clifford Galeybefore making the decision to keep schools in session.

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“We were on the phone this morning at 4:30, and then I got upand rode the roads some,” she said Friday. “I determined that therewas a minimal amount of ice on the side of the road, and the busesought to be able to avoid it.”

In addition, Galey said he was receiving reports from deputiesand highway patrolmen on the conditions of the road throughout thenight.

“We listened to Clifford and he kept us updated on if thesituation had worsened or gotten better,” said Brister. “We wentdown some of the roads that are usually treacherous and icy when wehave bad weather, and they were fine.”

Officials said they did assure parents that if they have aproblem with letting their children out in the weather, the schooldistricts would definitely respect their wishes to keep themhome.

Officials at Brookhaven Academy said they based their decisionon the fact that they have students who come in from five counties.Galey said even if the weather didn’t hit like it was expected to,it was still a sound decision.

“BA had some concerns about when the rain was going to quit, andwe didn’t want to take that chance because their students all driveand come from five counties,” Galey said. “It’s nothing but asafety thing for the children. I would rather see them swap aholiday for a day like this than put them on unsafe roads.”

And Lawrence County Civil Defense Director Robert Patterson saidhe and school district officials were also in contact through thenight.

“I worked with them and we kind of worked through the night todecide what to do,” Patterson said. “We finally made the decisionto close it with the water and the road, for the safety of thekids.”

Things looked like they would be clearing up, which is whyFranklin County schools were in session today, said Franklin CountyCivil Defense Director Mark Thornton.

“It looks like we pretty much dodged a bullet,” he said of theweather. “We just watched the roads and the conditions, and wedecided when we didn’t get any freezing rain or snow there wasn’tany need to cancel.”

Copiah County Civil Defense Director Randle Drane said there wasminor icing in his county.

“Really the roads are pretty well clear, there are some spotswhere water was standing or running across the road that froze, butthey’re 90 percent clear now,” Drane said.

Galey said the freezing temperatures are expected to continuethrough Monday, though it looks like the precipitation hassubsided.

“It should gradually warm up through the first part of nextweek,” he said. “There’s a chance of rain later on in the week, butthe last night anything should be below freezing is Mondaynight.”