TPS: School closing policy for winter weather

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Reported by: Sharon Phillips
Updated: 12/04/2013 1:17 pm Published: 11/22/2013 9:19 pm

Snow is in the forecast and with excitement of white flurries, some forget the dangers.

It could create slippery driving conditions.

FOX23 went to the Education Service Center in midtown to look at how Tulsa Public Schools make the decision whether or not to cancel classes.

We sat down with Chris Payne, an administrator for Tulsa Public Schools. He explained the first test after a snowfall starts with the bus drivers.

Bus drivers are sent out early that morning to drive several routes to see how bad the conditions are.

Then a call is made to the superintendent of TPS, Dr. Keith Ballard, and he makes the final decision.

Tulsa Public Schools have more than 40,000 students, so the decision to close school is a big one.

Payne explains, "The big concern is whether it's safe to have kids out in it, and we also look at the temperatures -- if it's severely cold and really too cold to have children standing out at a bus stop."

Another thing the district looks at is whether it's easy to get around the neighborhoods and side streets.

"A lot of times, the traffic on the main streets is okay but you get in a neighborhood and it's pretty treacherous," Payne said.

TPS will send out six bus drivers around 3 a.m. to drive specific routes around town.

Two of them include the areas behind Edison High School in midtown and Remington Elementary in west Tulsa.

FOX23 drove the routes and found that both are in neighborhoods with small hills.

The drivers are not only checking to make sure the buses can handle icy conditions but also a normal sized car.

However, it's not just the driving conditions that TPS has to consider.

Payne said, "Also, because we live in a district with children that may come from a background of poverty, also the decision to close school may mean they may be home and not have food."

Regardless, the district is mindful that people have to know early whether classes are canceled so they can make the proper child-care arrangements if need be.

Payne explained, "We always know by 5:30 and it's always out there by 5:30 in the morning, whether or not we are going to be open."

FOX23 will always post school closings on FOX23 News and on our website, FOX23.COM.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

Mayor Maynot - 12/5/2013 10:10 AM
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