Morning News-Lisa Lete
Another winter storm dumped several inches of snow around the region Sunday, keeping snowplows busy and putting area drivers on edge. However, not everyone had to venture out; students and faculty at many area schools got to enjoy a snow day because of blowing and drifting snow and hazard roads in some of the rural communities.
Blackfoot School District 55 was one of the few districts in the county to keep schools open Monday morning after a cold front moved in Sunday night, bringing windy conditions and dumping several inches of snow throughout the region.
In Bingham County - Shelley, Firth, and Snake River school districts and Blackfoot Charter Community Learning Center all closed school because of hazardous road conditions and blowing and drifting snow.
Blackfoot district interim superintendent Chad Struhs, who is ultimately responsible for making the final decision when it comes to 'school closures' in the district, said his decision to keep schools open did not come lightly and that he realizes his decision was not popular with everyone.
"We didn't quite get the blowing and the drifting here that some of the outer areas got," Struhs said. "I had transportation people in the Fort Hall, Wapello and Groveland areas checking out the back road conditions in the early morning hours and I was also in touch with the county drivers. It was determined that all the roads were passable and that the weather conditions weren't that severe."
Several patrons have criticized Struhs' decision to keep the schools open, contending "that the roads weren't safe to transport children" and accusing the district of "keeping school open so that they [the district] don't lose money by closing school and won't have to add an extra day on to the school year."
Tawnya Thompson Osborn, who lives 11 miles out on the Arco Highway, defended Struhs' decision on the district's Facebook page saying, "Good grief people - we live in Idaho! The roads were fine this morning. I drive for Blackfoot and the roads were cleared even out in Fort Hall for the most part. You have every right as parents to keep your child at home if you feel it is necessary."
Struhs said that on 'bad weather days' such as Monday, that the school districts are "really in a no-win situation."
"On these kind of days we don't pull good attendance when the schools are open and that costs the districts money too," he said.
Aberdeen School District also remained open on Monday with personnel reporting that "the area didn't get a lot of snow - mostly just windy conditions".