TPS Cancels Another Day Of Classes Due To Snowy Side Streets, Frigid Wind

Monday, December 9th 2013, 5:31 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Tulsa Public Schools canceled classes for Tuesday over concerns about snowy side streets and cold air at the bus stops.

Friday, it was just the snow making travel uncertain that led to so many districts canceling school. Monday, today it was the leftover ice and bitter cold, and that's what led to this third day of canceled classes.

Travel was slow Monday, but not much of a problem for the two Carver Middle School students we talked to. They managed to get to the top of Reservoir Hill on foot, to burn off a snow day.

"Sledding, all day," said Margo.

"And we're going to build a snowman," Gracie said.

The hilly streets around Reservoir Hill are one of the trouble spots for school buses, and one of the factors in the decision to close schools.

12/9/2013 Related Story: Winter Weather Advisory In Effect Monday For Parts Of Northern Oklahoma

The district considers streets like that one too dangerous for school buses to travel, along with other spots in West and South Tulsa.

"A lot of our travel for the buses is in the neighborhoods, where we still find a lot of ice build up and things of that nature," said TPS Transportation Director Rosalyn Vann-Jackson

The district had workers out all weekend clearing snow from parking lots and sidewalks and most of the schools are done. The streets around the schools are cleared by the City of Tulsa, after they clear the main streets.

The City of Tulsa reports spending $42,000 in overtime cleaning up the snow from last Friday.

All available plows were out from Friday morning through Saturday night, when the operation was scaled back. Now, the only trucks which are out are going to trouble spots.

"We have that mapped out, we have a system. It's just a matter of priorities, so we try take care of the priorities in order, arterial systems, secondary collectors, schools and very, very steep residential streets," said Paul Strizek, of the City of Tulsa.

It usually takes the city about 14 hours to clear a single lane on every main street, but no matter how much snow there is, the city doesn't plan to go into neighborhoods, except for ones that are hilly and impassable, like parts of Reservoir Hill, where one street was treated and the others just left to thaw out.

"The reality is we just don't have the resources to treat every street in the city - the manpower, the trucks, the salt - we just don't have it," Strizek said.

The school district does occasionally use "snow routes" through a system that calls parents to let them know.

Back at the top of Reservoir Hill, 7th graders Margo and Gracie admitted they could have made it to school Monday.

"Yeah, but I would prefer not to," said Gracie said.

And a lot of students might feel that way, but parents are probably ready to send students back to class after what's going to be five days at home.

With schools out for a third day, the district will have more time to deploy their own snow plows and clear school property. 

The third snow day also adds a third day to the end of the calendar in Tulsa, pushing the end of school to May 23.

The city continues to monitor conditions for melting snow turning into ice. The city has 35 routes and, over the years, they've marked all the known trouble spots on their maps.

See those maps here