Snow levels, road conditions play role in 'snow day decision'

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NORTH PLATTE, Neb.-- After a long weekend due to Sunday night's snowfall, students returned to school on Tuesday.

North Platte Public School District leaders carefully monitored the forecast and consulted with the city and National Weather Service before declaring no school for Monday.

"We're in western Nebraska. We know we're going to have snow," Stuart Simpson, director of finance, said.

Simpson, along with Dr. Ron Hanson, superintendent, and Dr. Tami Eshleman, associate superintendent , make the "snow day decision."

"We're working with Dr. Hanson and Tami in regards to making the call," Simpson said. "Obviously, Tami's relying on us as we drive around the district and Dr. Hansen is relying on my communication with maintenance and custodial [staff] about what we can do. All three of us are trying to determine the best thing for the students."

When it came to to cancelling school on Monday, or any other day, Simpson says two factors play a big role in the decision.

"It all depends on how much snow we get and if we can get around town," Simpson said. "We're always evaluating. When you can get four to five inches, but we [and the city] can get it cleared quickly, we're back to operations."

That was not the case on Monday, with nearly a foot of snow falling in 24 hours.

"When you have a foot of snow, that causes a lot of problems," Simpson said. "We made the call early enough and we knew then we were going to have to get in and work a lot of hours yesterday just to get our buildings taken care of."

Administrators made the decision to cancel class on Monday by 6 p.m. the night before school; but, on other days, they may wait to cancel school until 6 a.m. the day of class.

"You can't call it early because, if [crews] can get out, if the city can get out and move snow, then we can pretty much get our students to school," Simpson said.

On Monday, crews spent 20 hours clearing snow from parking lots and areas around the school.

Simpson says that the North Platte Public School District might make the decision for a snow day differently than other area schools.

The North Platte Public School District is a non-busing district, meaning, for the most part, parents transport children to the nearby, neighborhood school.

A rural district might make the "snow day decision" a little earlier than the North Platte Public School District.

"[More rural schools] have a lot of bus routes and they have to be consistent of how to get those students safely on a bus to and from their house," Simpson said.

In the past three years, Simpson believes the district cancelled school on two occasions.

If a snow day is not called and parents in more rural areas still have concerns about the weather, it is ultimately up to those parents whether to have their kids go to school or not. Simpson says that student safety comes first.

For a complete look at the district's closing information, click here.