Here we go again — Midlands school districts watch coming storm, consider options

cclick@thestate.comFebruary 10, 2014 

— There won’t be much peace for Midlands area school superintendents this week as they begin to monitor a winter storm named Pax that threatens to bring a mix of rain, sleet and snow to the region as soon as Tuesday night.

Weather forecasters are calling it a one-two punch and advising residents to take the storm seriously.

Richland 1 spokeswoman Karen York said officials in her district are doing just that, monitoring updated forecasts to determine whether schools should be closed Tuesday.

Others are doing the same. Superintendents of Lexington County schools are meeting late Monday afternoon with representatives of the Lexington County Emergency Management Division and National Weather Service to discuss weather forecasts.

The scenario is similar to that of two weeks ago, when school chiefs had to rely on a moving target of a weather forecast that threatened to bring precipitation in early or late afternoon, just as buses would begin their runs to take children home.

Snow didn’t fall until after 9 p.m. Jan. 28, a Tuesday, but schools in Richland 1 and Richland 2, along with those in Kershaw and Fairfield counties, chose to close schools Tuesday as a precaution. Schools in Lexington County went a half-day on Tuesday.

School chiefs said they felt justified in their decision-making after looking to Atlanta, where two inches of ice and snow paralyzed the interstate highways and forced some schools to remain open overnight to house stranded children.

A bill passed last week by the House of Representatives would forgive missed days from the snowstorm that hit in late January. That bill now heads to the state Senate.

State lawmakers forgave up to five snow days in 2011 after a particularly brutal winter.

State law requires public school students to have 180 days in the classroom each school year. It also requires districts to build three weather makeup days into their calendar. If the schools don’t need them, they become student holidays.

Several Midlands school districts missed two days in late January because of the snowstorm. Other school districts toward the coast missed more days.

Staff writer Adam Beam contributed.

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