Deteriorating roads change Hamilton County schools decision

Hamilton SE buses never left the lot Friday morning once plans changed.

Many schools are eager to bring their students back to class, but will have to wait until next week.  Add to that list the public schools of Hamilton County, some of which entered Friday with plans to resume class on two-hour delays.

Those plans changed abruptly Friday morning as school administrators gauged road conditions as unsafe for children. 

"Due to deteriorating road conditions overnight, all Carmel Clay Schools are closed 1/10/14," came the message at 5:45 a.m.  Before 6:00 a.m., all public schools in Hamilton County had closed.

"Lack of access to bus stops" was the reason given by Hamilton Southeastern transportation director Jim White for the change from a two hour delay to closure Friday morning.  White acknowledged that streets were in good shape during his recorded message that went out to district parents.

Streets and bus stops in Indianapolis are still too slippery for students.

On Beech Grove's fourth day off from school because of snow on Thursday, Rita McDougalle sent sons Cody and Cameron out to shovel the sidewalks in front of their house.

"I'm gonna put 'em to work," said McDougalle.

The work was an escape for everyone from their cabin fever.

"It's crazy. My kids range in age from 8 years old to 14 years old," said McDougalle of her four kids, who have been stuck inside the house all week because of the weather.

Cabin fever or not, though, McDougalle said she's just fine with the district canceling classes again as long as the sidewalks remain covered with snow.

McDougalle's not just a mom, she's also a bus driver.

"The sidewalks aren't clean. Drives aren't clean. They have to stand in the street and as a school bus driver, it kinda worries us because the kids can slip and fall," she said. "We can slide. It's just in my opinion, it's too dangerous."

"Here's the perfect example of why we're not in school," said Beech Grove Superintendent Paul Kaiser as he gave Eyewitness News a tour of the roads in Beech Grove.

Kaiser pointed to a man in a motorized wheelchair heading down the street. He wasn't using the sidewalk because it was snow covered.@Instead, he was riding on the road.

"This would be a kid walking down the road because there are no sidewalks," said Kaiser.

Snow-covered sidewalks are a big reason Kaiser and other district officials made the decision to keep school closed for one more day.

"We've had schools ready to go for three days, but Mother Nature hasn't cooperated very well," said Kaiser. "As you can see, none of the sidewalks or very few of the sidewalks are totally plowed. So the kids are going to have to walk in the street to get to the bus stops."

He also said that the district had heard from parents who said they were in favor of keeping school closed for one more day.

That will probably mean more shoveling for Cody and Cameron.

"Now it's snowing again," said McDougalle, pointing to the falling snow.

With the hope warmer temperatures to come will help the effort.

"Hopefully, everything's going to be melted enough that the kids can get out and enjoy themselves," said McDougalle.

School closings and delays