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Decision to close schools based on weather forecasts

March 10, 1999

By 10 a.m. Tuesday morning, the Washington County Board of Education decided to close schools two hours early because of heavy snowfall.

The School Board bases the decision to close schools on weather forecasts and conditions of the county's roads, according to Transportation Director Christopher Carter.

Carter said he must notify bus drivers by 10 a.m. if schools will be closed two hours early. The decision to close one hour early must be made by noon.

Carter tracks the weather on television and by satellite forecast. He consults with local and state road officials and sends employees to scout areas around the county.

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On Tuesday, a 7:06 a.m. forecast said there was a 50 percent chance of light snow in the afternoon with an inch or less of accumulation expected, according to Carter.

By 10:44 a.m., the forecast changed to an 80 percent chance of moderate snow with 1 to 3 inches of accumulation, he said.

Carter made his recommendation to Executive Director of Support Services William McKinley. Superintendent of Schools Herman Bartlett OK'd the decision at 9:45 a.m., Carter said.

By 9:53 a.m., Community Relations Specialist Donna Messina was notifying radio stations of the early closing.

When schools are closed early, afternoon kindergarten is canceled, Messina said. Instead of leaving at 11 a.m., morning kindergarten students stay until buses arrive, she said.

-Bruce Hamilton

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