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School superintendents keep eye on temperature, winds

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Bracing for another blast of arctic air Tuesday morning, area school superintendents planned to continue consulting with transportation officials and weather observers before they made an early morning decision on possible school closures or delays.

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Brainerd School Superintendent Steve Razidlo said Monday there was no statutory guideline or requirement in terms of cold temperatures and wind chills that would stipulate that schools must be closed. He said Monday he had been and would continue to talk with Reichert Bus Service to make sure the fleet of busses was ready to go and running well.

Razidlo said a recent adjustment in a law that had previously required a certain percentage of biofuel in school buses during the winter months has improved the fleet’s ability to operate in cold weather.

The superintendent predicted that for Tuesday the information on expected peak winds would play a role in a decision on possible school closings.

“We will be reviewing whether or not there’s anything to gain from a two-hour delayed start,” Razidlo said. “It’s a rare occurrence when we give out a closure or delay (notice) the evening before,” he said.

Razidlo said he takes into account, temperature, wind chill and the time of year when deciding on whether schools should be closed or delayed. Reichert officials, he said, are transparent about what their fleet can accomplish in a given weather situation.

“It’s (the decision) going to be when the wind comes...and would we get any perceived gain by delaying the start of the school day,” Razidlo said.

Chuck Arns, Pillager School District superintendent, said the threshold for him was generally 30 below temperatures or 50 below wind chills, before school is either delayed or canceled.

On Monday, Pillager teachers were conducting an in-service program and students did not have class.

In each situation, according to Razidlo, the ultimate decision is up to the childrens’ parents.

“Parents are the first, best judge of what’s appropriate for their children,” he said. “We’ve always reinforced that and understood that.”

Some schools in Minnesota had already made the decision for Tuesday.

Pine River-Backus Schools’ website reports it will start two hours late and Early Childhood morning classes are canceled.

The Duluth News Tribune reports all public, private and charter schools in Duluth will be closed Tuesday because of the extreme cold and wind-chills.

Other Minnesota school districts planning to open two hours late on Tuesday include Chokio-Alberta, Bertha-Hewitt and Dawson-Boyd.

Spirit Mountain ski area in Duluth closed early Monday because of the cold.

(This story contains information from The Associated Press)

MIKE O’ROURKE, associate editor, may be reached at 855-5860 or mike.orourke@brainerddispatch.com. He may be followed at www.twitter.com/MikeORourkenews.

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Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
(218) 855-5860
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