North Texas’ latest winter storm resulted in canceled classes and activities in Crowley schools — but across Tarrant County, at the Birdville district, all campuses were open as usual.
Fort Worth students — about 87,000 of them — reported to classes after a two-hour delay.
Circumstances account for some of the differences. In Crowley, for example, delaying is usually not an option because of long distances some of the bus drivers must cover. But in Fort Worth, where students are closer to school, the possibility of precipitation still in the forecast late Monday drove the decision to delay classes.
“We really do understand that delaying school — or even canceling school — has a huge impact on families,” said Clint Bond, spokesman for Fort Worth schools.
The Arctic blast arrived shortly after 3 p.m. on Monday and temperatures immediately began to drop. The National Weather Service called for a chance of flurries before 7 a.m.
Bond said the Fort Worth district monitors weather in every season, but reports of this latest winter storm put the district’s incident command team on alert, watching updates and forecasts. The district also stayed in touch with the city of Fort Worth’s emergency operations and the National Weather Service throughout Monday.
He said weather conditions continued to change and there was a possibility of precipitation, so Fort Worth, which runs about 400 buses daily, made the decision to delay. The choice was announced at 10 p.m. to give families time to prepare, Bond said.
Crowley also has a team that monitors forecasts and conditions, said Anthony Kirchner, spokesman for the district.
Kirchner said that delaying the school start time is typically not done there because of bus schedules. He said drivers cover about 6,500 miles each day. Many bus routes include rural roads that can become dangerous during a freeze.
“We also work closely with surrounding school districts and receive updates from the Tarrant County Office of Emergency Management and the National Weather Service through numerous conference calls leading up to each weather event,” Kirchner said.
Crowley decided to cancel classes Tuesday at about 10 p.m. Information was shared with parents soon after the decision was made, he said. Last school year, there were 15,185 students in Crowley schools.
Burleson, Cleburne and Everman are among those that closed because of weather. Aledo and Mansfield schools joined Fort Worth in a delay while Eagle Mountain-Saginaw and Keller schools started as usual.
At Birdville, “the district strives to make the best decision possible for the safety of students and staff with the information available at that time,” the district explained in a message to parents.
What about having to make up so-called snow days?
Texas school districts developed calendars based on minutes, not days, after a change in state law.
Kirchner said the law gives school districts flexibility in dealing with bad weather days.
“Crowley ISD built minutes into each school day to account for bad weather or missed school days, so there will not be additional makeup days,” Kirchner said.
In Fort Worth, the calendar has two makeup days in June, but will not likely have to tap into those to make up the two-hour delay, Bond said. He said the district is analyzing whether minutes built into the day will cover the delay.
This report contains material from the Star-Telegram archives.