EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


January 17, 2013

Angry parents: Why didn't city close schools during storm?

Tricky storm came later than expected, superintendent says

HAVERHILL — Parents are angry that the city did not cancel school yesterday due to the snow, but officials said there is a good reason why.

Mayor James Fiorentini’s Facebook page had about 30 comments yesterday from residents criticizing the decision to open schools.

“That is the superintendent’s decision,” Fiorentini said, referring to school chief James Scully, who decides whether or not to cancel school. “But I’ve got to defend the superintendent on this.”

Scully told The Eagle-Tribune he got up at 4 a.m. yesterday and looked outside, but didn’t see any snow, despite the earlier forecasts. He looked at the weather reports, reviewed the road conditions, talked to the city’s transportation staff, and made a decision to have school.

“I make the decision I think is the best,” he said. “Every other city and town in Massachusetts made the same decision: To have school. I think they all made the right decision.”

Scully said the problem was that the water content in the snow was very high and “the minute cars hit it, it became slick (on the roads). And that happened in half an hour. ... In one half hour, things turned to ice. None of us are snow gods. We take the information we have and try to make the right decision.”

He noted that “by 10 a.m., all the roads were black,” meaning the pavement was showing thanks to the work of plow drivers.

“And the kids got home safely today,” he said.

But there were problems during the morning commute, including a school bus crash at Broadway and Monument Street at 7:22 a.m. Police said a car hit a slippery section of road and went off the road into a utility pole, then slid into another car, which collided with the Whittier Regional High bus. The bus was stopped at a red light, police said.

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