Cobb, Marietta schools take no chances, call classes off today and Wednesday
by Rachel Gray
February 11, 2014 04:00 AM | 2800 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Polk Street Elementary Principal Corey Lawson watches as students board buses Monday and head out to spend the next two days at home due to the threat of inclement weather in Cobb.
Polk Street Elementary Principal Corey Lawson watches as students board buses Monday and head out to spend the next two days at home due to the threat of inclement weather in Cobb.
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MARIETTA — Not wishing to repeat the mistakes two weeks ago of having kids trapped in buses and school buildings, the Cobb County and Marietta school districts decided Monday afternoon to cancel classes both Tuesday and Wednesday.

According to the National Weather Service, the worst part of an impending ice storm is likely to occur late this afternoon and into Wednesday morning.

The weather forecast for today calls for a 100 percent chance of sleet and snow, with accumulations of up to an inch in Cobb. By nightfall the sleet is expected to turn to freezing rain, continuing as late as Wednesday afternoon.

As classes began Monday morning, both the Marietta and Cobb school systems announced they had canceled all after-school evening activities scheduled for Monday.

The cancelations included the 47th annual STAR Student and Teacher banquet, which honors 27 seniors from each of Cobb’s high schools for high SAT test scores and grade-point averages, as well as community service activities.

A new date for the banquet held at the First United Methodist Church has not been announced.

All public schools within Cobb had normal dismissal times Monday afternoon.

Some Marietta schools were originally supposed to have early dismissals this week for parent-teacher conferences, but according to the Marietta City Schools website, “due to the number of missed school days resulting from the recent winter storm, Marietta City school conference weeks scheduled for Feb. 10-14 are canceled. Schools will contact parents regarding individual conference needs of their students.”

The Cobb Board of Education meeting scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed to Feb. 19.

At 6 p.m. on Feb. 25, the Marietta school board will hold a combined work session and regular monthly meeting.

Cobb schools announce closings early

Jay Dillon, director of communications for the Cobb County School District, said staff met after lunch on Monday to make the decision to cancel.

“In light of what happened last time, we would rather err on the side of caution,” Dillon said.

School Board Chairwoman Kathleen Angelucci said the Cobb County School District is trying to be “overly cautious.”

In the end, Angelucci said it is Cobb County School Superintendent Michael Hinojosa’s call to cancel school.

“It is ultimately (Hinojosa’s) decision,” she said.

Former Cobb School Board Chairman Randy Scamihorn, who now serves as vice chair, said he had not talked to Hinojosa on Monday, but reached out to Angelucci.

Scamihorn said his biggest concern was the amount of ice that could accumulate on side streets, which have hills and valleys the buses must traverse.

“Once a car gets turned sideways, buses can’t go,” Scamihorn said.

Angelucci said the last snow storm two weeks ago that disrupted traffic for hours came as a surprise to Cobb, as well as the surrounding districts that “were caught off guard.”

This week, the district is “very concerned about the ice and what it will mean,” Angelucci said.

Marietta schools cancel class for two days

Tom Cheater, who was elected to the Marietta school board in November 2009, said he and other members of the board had been exchanging emails with City of Marietta Schools Superintendent Emily Lembeck staring Monday morning.

But, he said, it is impossible to know exactly the impact a storm will have within the city limits of Marietta.

“Weather is something no one can predict 100 percent,” Cheater said.

Lembeck’s staff was checking with local police departments and the school system’s transportation department throughout Monday before making a decision about cancelations, Cheater said.

Cheater, who has two young twins in the Marietta school district, pointed out that the city school buses not only transport students on city roads, but also state highways.

If there is a threat to safety, Cheater said he trusts Lembeck to make the right decision.

But if students, parents and staff are to be prepared, the administrators need to make a decision about canceling classes as soon as possible.

The decision to dismiss early may have been delayed too long when a 2-inch snow storm hit Cobb two weeks ago, stranding children on buses and inside schools for hours.

Cheater, who has resided in Cobb County for the past 13 years and became a Marietta resident in 2000, said he has never experienced a storm resulting in as much chaos as the one in late January.

Now, Cheater said, the region is going to be sensitive to any severe weather systems coming through.

“It was a difficult event for all of metro Atlanta,” Cheater said. “I think Marietta handled it really well.”

Cheater said it was wise to leave the schools open as a shelter and not continue to run children home once the roads became impassable.

Since January’s storm, Cheater said he has been contacted by parents who knew their kids were safe at school.

One such parent, whose child remained at the Marietta High School throughout the night, was fellow Marietta school board member Jeriene Bonner-Grimes.

Bonner-Grimes, who was elected to the Marietta school board in November, is the parent of three Marietta High School graduates, and a 14-year-old student, Sydnee.

Bonner-Grimes said she was not worried about her daughter being sheltered at the high school overnight and preferred her staying there rather than walking home “out in the elements.”

As for Monday’s decision, Grimes said canceling school is about safety and the school calendar is structured to account for snow days.

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