HAVERHILL — More snow, again.
City officials said this winter’s string of snowstorms has created a slew of problems, from trash pickup delays to interruptions in classroom time to pressure on the snow removal budget.
And because of conflicting weather reports and the timing of some of these recent storms, school officials say it has resulted in delayed decisions as to whether classes should be in session or not.
A perfect example is what happened on Thursday, said School Superintendent James Scully, who waited until 5 a.m. to cancel school. He said that had to do with constantly changing weather reports.
He said he was on the phone at 4 a.m. to Methuen Superintendent Judith Scannell and Whittier Regional High Superintendent William DeRosa to discuss what they would do.
“Snow was predicted to start at 5 a.m., then it was noon, then at 2:30 a.m. it changed again, then at 5 a.m. the forecast said the snow would move in at 8 a.m.,” Scully said.
Scully said he notified the media 5:30 a.m. then notified parents and staff at 6 a.m. though an alert system. He said he waited until 6 a.m. to notify parents because some have complained about being woken up earlier than that. Scully sent out a Tweet at 5:45 a.m. to the many teachers and students who follow him.
With four snow days on the books as of Thursday, the last day of school has been moved to June 18, although that could change if more snow days happen.
Scully said the decision to cancel school is not taken lightly because it impacts many people. They include parents who may need to make child care arrangements, as well as early arriving staff such as school cafeteria workers, who must begin preparations long before the nearly 8,000 meals are served.
“I spoke to the owner of Coppola Bus, who needs to have buses warmed up before they head out on their routes,” Scully said. “In one recent past storm, Boston schools closed, but we didn’t. Had we closed, it would have been a wasted day.”
He said every day counts leading up to MCAS testing this spring.
“We’ll still make the time up, but we’ve almost taken away one week of MCAS preparation time,” Scully said. “Like a ballplayer who might take a week or two off, he can get out of sync. That’s what happens in schools. Students are all geared up. Teachers are all geared up. And just before we play our championship game, which is the MCAS, we’re sitting in the dugout.
“Even though we’re the coach of the team, until the man above stops the snow we can’t get back in the game,” Scully said.
City officials said the trash pickup schedule doesn’t change because of snow days, although there are often some delays.
David Van Dam, Mayor James Fiorentini’s chief of staff, said trash pickup is affected by holidays such as Presidents Day on Monday. Trash pickup for all of next week will be delayed one day.
Drivers who park on the street are reminded to park on the even side this month. Parking is not allowed on downtown snow emergency routes, which are posted.
The city was prepared for Thursday’s storm with 200 tons of salt on site at the DPW yard on Primrose Street. Van Dam said the city buys salt through the state and receives group buying discounts.
“We use about 200 tons per storm and we purchase about 4,000 to 5,000 tons each winter,” Van Dam said. “The good news is there’s no shortage of salt at this time, although there is a shortage of warm weather, which would eliminate our salting.”
He said the city treats main roads with salt while side roads are treated with a mixture of salt and sand, followed by a final treatment of sand.