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Delay? Cancel? It’s a tougher call for Edison Local than most

Few organizations face the daily logistical challenge of safely transporting hundreds of students to school. That is, of course, a job for school districts. It gets tougher in wintry conditions, and it's even tougher for districts like Edison Local.

The first few days of significant snowfall resulted in dozens of school delays and closings.

Few organizations face the daily logistical challenge of safely transporting hundreds of students to school. That is, of course, a job for school districts. It gets tougher in wintry conditions, and it's even tougher for districts like Edison Local.

"Biggest thing is terrain,” said Joe DeBold, district transportation director. “Probably 70 percent of our transportation is done on township roads which are hard pack, chip and seal gravel."

And that’s very much spread out.

"Our school district is 208 square miles, and our 19 bus routes cover about 3,100 miles daily," Superintendent Bill Beattie said.

That's more than the distance from Ohio to California. The district comprises seven townships. That makes the decision on closures and delays more difficult than city schools.

"Unfortunately, with the district that's 208 miles. We could get 3 inches of snow in one part of the district and absolutely nothing in the far northern or southern end of it," Beattie said.

City schools can lean on city salt trucks.

"And we don't have salt in our district,” Beattie said. “Most of our townships have to utilize cinder and that's just to get it down on the road to get the ability for some traction."

Edison closed Thursday, making that decision the day before. It is often one of the earliest districts to decide. The mixture of townships cuts confidence for clear roads.

Three-point turns on back roads in dark, slick conditions are tough. Delays afford drivers more daylight to negotiate dangerous routes.

As for temperature, most Jefferson County schools will close between zero-degree air temperature and negative-15 wind chill.

Prudence is priority.

"It's not a perfect science,” DeBold said. “Sometimes we make a decision and not a flake falls. Ultimately, first and foremost is the safety and security of the kids."

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