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Parents Angry School Stayed Open, District 186 Responds

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Monday's ice storm didn’t stop Springfield public schools from holding classes. But it also meant many school buses were late to pick up students. Parents complained of students waiting up to 45 minutes in the cold and freezing rain as buses maneuvered the slick roads. Many took to the district’s Facebook page to hurl insults about the decision to keep school open.

Erin Predmore has two children who attend district schools. She told the school board there needs to be better communication from the district and suggested using a text-messaging service to update parents when buses are running late so kids can wait indoors as long as possible. “We don’t all have the luxury of being able to put our children in our car that is already heated with leather seats ... to drive them to school ourselves, they can’t all be car-riders. And in our city we need to recognize the need of all of the students," said Predmore.

Interim superintendent Bob Hill says he regretted keeping school open, and  didn't realize how bad the ice would get when he had to make the call around 5:30 am. "My crystal ball was foggy ... All I can say is I was as distraught as everybody else was at 7:45 when I'm out in it - thinking about how late the school buses are and so on," said Hill. He said about 70% of students made it in. 

The district has already used up its emergency days for the school year but Hill says that does not effect his decision on calling off classes. Most other area-schools were able to avoid having to make the decision as they were closed for President's Day.

Rachel Otwell of the Illinois Times is a former NPR Illinois reporter.
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