Tulsa Schools Plowing Roads To Keep Students Safe In Storm

Tuesday, February 4th 2014, 1:21 pm

Tulsa Public Schools sent out a snow patrol Tuesday, to clear the path for students to get to class and get back home.

But it turned out the biggest problem for the district wasn't the snow. Even though the district was in school, a lot of children stayed home.

The decision to hold school has received some criticism from parents.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Keith Ballard said they had been observing roads since 4 a.m. and made the best decision they could on the available data.

"You just have to weigh all of the factors and take everything into consideration," he said. "When you have all of the data in front of you and you believe you are making the best decision at least you have peace of mind that you're doing the right thing."

The school system used their last snow day Monday, February 3.

2/3/2014 Related Story: Tulsa Public Schools Out Of Snow Days After Closing Monday

The enrollment at Tulsa Pubic Schools is 39,674 students. On Tuesday, just 26,260 showed up for class. That's 13,414 children out of school.

Normal attendance for Tulsa Public Schools averages 90 percent, on Tuesday for it was right at 66 percent; 33 percent of all students were absent.

That's way down and sure to figure into future decisions on snow days.

But before they knew so many children would stay home, the district decided having classes was a safe bet.

Tulsa's fleet of buses headed out early, just as the snow and sleet started falling, to start picking up children for school.

It's unusual to have children in class on a day like that, but Tulsa Public Schools was confident in the decision.

Dr. Keith Ballard, Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent said, "We just felt that conditions were such that we could go. Our only concern was what's going to happen during the day, but taking a look at the forecast, we decided we just needed to go ahead and get another day in if we could do that safely today."

Tulsa Public Schools sent out snow plows early, with salt spreaders on the back. By noon, they had visited all 90 Tulsa Public School sites to plow the snow when needed, but mainly to salt places where people are walking.

Jay Oates with Tulsa Public Schools said, "Well we're just trying to make sure we sand all the parking lots and make sure it's safe to travel on for our students and parents."

The school district has small spreaders for sidewalks, and two of the dump truck sized plows and spreaders for parking lots.

At Booker T. High School, they spent some time on a public street because it goes through the campus, but usually that's left to the City of Tulsa.

Tulsa Public Schools work toward having everything clear and ready because they can't wait to see if school is going to be cancelled.

"Our job never ends. We come in and still work on parking lots and sidewalks and make sure when they decide to open school, they'll be ready," Oates said.

The district hasn't made a decision for Wednesday, but has concerns about the snow that melted Tuesday freezing overnight.

That could make it impossible for the buses to get around, and that would force the schools to close.