Monday, February 3, 2014

Hard job

We were for the most part spared from the blast of winter weather that swept over much of the South last week -- at least the precipitation part of it. It's been plenty cold here in middle Tennessee, to the point that I'm tired of it, and I rarely tire of cold weather because I so detest the heat of summer.

(The previous paragraph sounds like one written by a malcontent and I certainly don't mean to come across that way. Stay with me here, please).

I have to admit I felt sorry for the mayor of Atlanta last week. He was roundly criticized for his city's lack of preparedness for the winter storm that left motorists stranded (or abandoning their cars) and caused school children to have to spend the night in their classrooms. There were similar stories across Alabama. Younger Son, a student at Auburn (about 90 miles west of Atlanta), had classes canceled last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

I'm sure those more accustomed to the winter weather scoffed at all of this but the fact is we're just not used to large amounts of snow and ice and when it happens, it's an event. And sometimes, no, we're just not prepared. Apparently folks thought the mayor of Atlanta should have paid more attention to the Al Rokers and Jim Cantores of the world and had the snow plows up and running and telling school administrators to get kids home pronto.

But there's the rub, see. If the good mayor had taken the weather reports as gospel and done all of that, and the storm system had taken a turn in a different direction and the snow had not come, he would have been criticized for "crying wolf" and inciting hysteria among the citizenry. He's in a no-win situation.

It's similar around these parts with the school superintendent. Because so many students ride buses, when snow and ice is forecast, he is entrusted with making the call of whether or not those buses should run. If they don't run, there is no school.

Many of the buses go to rural areas where snow plows and salt trucks either don't make it or are last on the list. In other words, it might be all clear in my neighborhood but icy on the back roads.

Many has been the time when our superintendent has erred on the side of caution, taking the weather forecasters at their word and canceling school. Sometimes the predicted weather has not arrived as believed and the poor guy is left explaining himself. And in some instances he's found himself like  Atlanta's mayor -- taking a bit of a gamble, then having to dismiss schools early when the weather hits, resulting in chaos as parents scramble to get their children home in the bad weather and the buses skid and slide their ways into the countryside.

Long ago when my offspring were in school I decided to trust the school superintendent and give him a break. Nobody's perfect and he's not always going to make the right call.

I don't live in Atlanta but if I did, I think I'd be giving the mayor there a break also.


Kelly said...

My children attended rural schools, so I've always understood the necessity of keeping an eye on those bus routes.

My gripe with the Atlanta situation was how some first tried to shift the blame to the weather forecasters. Come on, that storm didn't just come out of nowhere! There was advance notice. But maybe that "better safe than sorry" cancellation policy works better in school districts smaller than metro Atlanta.

Pouring rain here today, freezing rain just to the north of us. I hope it stays away from us!

Debby said...

I agree with Kelly. But also, if I felt that the decision was wrong, I'd have probably just gone ahead and kept my children home from school for the day. I'm a country gal, and that's just how we think. I know that it is different in the big city.