Winter weather forces schools to make tough decision

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Friday morning's icy storm forced central Indiana schools to make a tough decision: to delay, cancel or hold classes at the regularly scheduled time.

It also forced families to make some last-minute decisions.

School might have been called off on this Friday, but there was still plenty of activity in the parking lot at Franklin Central. The decision to call off school actually began around 3:00 am. That is when transportation people from the township began driving the roads to see if the buses would be able to pass. I spoke with the superintendent as we watched the trucks working to clear her parking lot.

"This was one of the toughest decisions for us, because you could almost go either way, but we felt one of the biggest concerns was by 10:00 or 11:00 am we would not see a thaw and it wouldn't be any safer for us to bring out buses out," said Dr. Flora Reichanadter, Franklin Township superintendent.

Her case was made in the parking lot. Crews were working well past the middle of the day to try to make the lot passable.

Franklin was not alone. Every township school district called school off because of the weather. They all communicate during a conference call at 5:00 am, but each continues to monitor because of varying conditions.

At one point, there were nearly 400 closings or delays being reported for Friday morning. Check the list here.

IPS went with a two-hour delay, which shocked Jennifer Barkewich. She walks her six-year-old son about four blocks to school in the mornings.

"I thought they were crazy because of safety of the kids walking to school. They could slip and fall like I almost did. They could slip and fall or get caught sliding into a car or the street because the streets were so icy," she said.

The key, according to the Franklin superintendent, is for working parents is to always have a back-up plan.

Back-up plan

"Always plan for a delay early on. Plan for if the school was to close so you can enact it. We always try to make the best decision and today it did not look like we were going to have a thaw until 11 or so, so there was no way to have school even delayed today," said Reichanadter.

That sounds easy enough, but it is not that easy. Four-year-old Paisley couldn't even remember why she didn't have school today, but she could remember her birthday.

As she sat on the couch of her Decatur Township home, her dad asked her a question.

"You want to tell him when you birthday is?"

"July 20th."

"I keep remembering that."

"I know! You are doing good."

These two are getting a little extra bonding time on this Friday because of all the bad weather outside. She was supposed to be enjoying pajama day at her pre-school but she's spending a little time looking forward to another special day.

Cliff Rigsby enjoyed the time together with his daughter, but this special time comes at a price in sleep.

"We planned on a two-hour delay. We planned on not taking her until later; my wife would work late. But after finding out she was off all day it kind of changed plans for us. I will have to stay up all day to make sure she gets lunch and a nap and gets everything taken care of for her. I still am going to have to go to work at 6 p.m. tonight until 6 a.m. in the morning," he said.

Since Rigsby was raised in Vermillion County where he says school was never called off unless there was six feet of snow, he has plenty of time today to think about that.

"A little bit of ice and they cancel school. After while it gets a little old having to accommodate that. Sometimes I feel they are a little quick to pull the trigger," he said.

But this way he gets to hear about the birthday to come and birthdays past.

"Last birthday, I had I had a little princess on top and my mom didn't know," said Paisley.

For now, Rigsby is holding on, knowing he might get a little sleep when Grandpa and Grandma show up.