Jay Schools close for 16th time this year
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 8:18 AM
Winter is back.
An SUV turns south onto Meridian Street from High Street in Portland this morning while sleet and snow falls. Jay County was put under a travel advisory, warning drivers to be cautious on the hazardous roads. (The Commercial Review/Kelly Lynch)
After two days of temperatures above 50 degrees, the mercury took a dive this morning. Overnight rain turned into sleet and then snow, leading to school closings and putting Jay County under a travel advisory.
Jay Schools closed this morning shortly after calling a three-hour delay. South Adams Schools were also closed today.
“It’s bad out,” said Tim Long, superintendent of Jay Schools. “I have never seen road conditions deteriorate in as quick as time as what they did today. It was quick.”
Rain began falling overnight, and as temperatures dropped it turned to sleet about 7 a.m. and then snow within the next hour. Long noted that not only was getting kids to school safely a concern, but also being able to get them back home.
“The worst thing you could do is get the kids to school and get 8 inches of snow and 40 mile an hour winds,” he said. “We’re going to err on the side of caution.”
At 8:45 a.m. Jay County was placed on a travel advisory, which means road conditions are hazardous and drivers should use caution when driving. Three slide-offs had been reported by 9:30 a.m. today, with Jay County Sheriff’s Office bringing in an extra deputy to help deal with traffic issues throughout the day.
Two inches of snow had fallen by 10:30 a.m., with 4 to 8 inches of accumulation expected.
For those who need to travel, sheriff’s office chief deputy Rob Bicknell advises drivers to stick to the highways as much as possible as all other roads will be slick.
“It’s a very heavy wet snow with a slush underneath it,” said Bicknell. “Keep your speed down and keep distance between yourself and the person in front of you.”
While the roads may become slick with the blowing winds, county plows and trucks will be out the rest of the day trying to stay ahead of the snow, said county engineer Dan Watson.
“They’re out scraping roads … just trying to stay with it all day, just see how it goes,” said Watson. “It’s hard to tell how much we’re going to get and how bad it’s going to get.”
Watson believes the county will have a “better handle” on the situation this afternoon.
Today marks the 16th day Jay County has canceled classes because of inclement weather this year, the most in at least 25 years. South Adams has missed 10 days.
Jay Schools have made up two days by way of built-in snow days, and on March 3 extended the school day an extra hour in an effort to make up class time.
The Indiana Department of Education mandates that six hours of additional classroom time makes up one day of school for seventh through 12th graders and five hours makes up a day for elementary school students.
Jay School Board approved a plan last month that called for the school day to be extended through April 8. At that point, if Jay Classroom Teachers Association and administrators agree the extended day is working, Long will have the option to continue the long school day until May 13.
The projected last day of school, with make-up days and the extra hours factored in, is June 5.
The Jay County Council meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. today has been postponed to 7 p.m. Monday.