Area schools close and delay due to weatherPublished 8:13pm Wednesday, January 30, 2013
As Dallas County residents saw the rain come pouring in Wednesday morning, school systems had to evaluate weather conditions and make quick decisions on whether or not to delay school.
Morgan Academy, Cathedral Academy and Ellwood Christian Academy were the only schools in the area to close for the full day Wednesday. Dallas County Schools issued a delay with students coming in at 11 a.m. while Meadowview Christian Academy had a delay until 10 a.m. Selma City Schools had no delay and opened at their regular times.
Don Willingham, assistant superintendent of Dallas County Schools, said as of Tuesday evening the school system planned on opening schools at their regular time because it appeared the worst of the storms would occur after students arrived.
However, after speaking with Dallas County EMA director Rhonda Abbott, Willingham said he along with Fannie Major-McKenzie, superintendent for Dallas County Schools, decided to issue a delay.
“The decision was made at about 5 a.m. this morning,” Willingham said, adding that he along with several other county and city school officials attended a weather briefing with the EMA Tuesday afternoon.
A main concern with county schools, Willingham said, is that many students and faculty members live far away, so bus drivers need to be notified of any kind of delay two hours in advance.
“We’re a little different than the city school system because they don’t depend on buses as much as we do,” Willingham said. “They can make a little quicker decision whereas ours has to be made well in advance.”
Also, because many students and staff live in the Prattville and Montgomery area, Willingham explained they had to drive through the worst of Wednesday’s weather as the storm system moved toward those areas at around 11 a.m.
“Thankfully there were no incidents and no accidents,” Willingham said. “However I haven’t checked attendance yet, but I’m sure it was a lot lower.”
Miriam Anderson, headmaster at Meadowview Christian Academy, said her decision to delay school was mostly made based on information from the EMA and other weather reports. Also, children that live outside the county were excused from school because of dangerous driving conditions.
“Everything went smoothly,” Anderson said of the delay. “We had a little bad weather about the time we opened but everyone got here safely. We had a number of children absent though because they live far out of town.”
Both Willingham and Anderson said their main means of notifying parents of the delay was by an automated telephone message and postings on their website and Facebook.
The Times-Journal made multiple attempts to contact Superintedndent Gerald Shirley, of Selma City Schools, to comment on the decision to not delay school start times.