Blanco ISD, rural school districts respond to icy conditions

Many rural school districts say they have a little more pressure when trying to decide on a late start or closure.

For them, the weather causes less traveled roads to become even more dangerous.

At 1 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, Blanco ISD announced a late start for tomorrow.

They say the earlier they make a decision, the safer it will be for everyone.

Being about 50 miles away from Austin has its upside but when bad weather hits, that could also mean more concerns.

"We have Highway 281 that gets a lot of traffic but we have a lot of rural roads that don't get a lot of traffic and ice accumulations there don't go away like they would on a well-traveled road. our roads are narrow, a lot of them don't have shoulders, a lot of them have hills, and there's curves. They are a lot more dangerous."

Blanco ISD Superintendent Buck Ford says communication is key when they know the weather is going to turn bad. That's why they keep in contact with 60 nearby school districts on a list serve.

"Reports from all over region 13 on what schools are doing," he said.

He also speaks with principals, the sheriff's office and TxDOT at all hours.

"They were telling me that it's supposed to hit around 11:00 tonight. I said our buses go out at 5:30, start going out at 5:30 AM, what's it look like then? They said the worst is going to hit around 5:30 AM. That was the call," he said.

It was Wednesday afternoon when they made the call for a late start on Thursday.

They feel more comfortable with that decision since safety is their top concern.

What they don't want is anyone on the roads when it's dangerous, especially school bus drivers.

"They feel less safe when it's dark. When the sun comes up they feel a little bit better driving on roads. so we start pushing buses out at 5:30, then with a 10 o'clock start, our buses start going out at 7:30. but the safety factor for that is driving at dark versus during the day," he said,

Last year many school districts received backlash for cancelling school after buses had started picking up students.

Blanco ISD Superintendent says they have learned from that situation.

"If parents get a notice in the morning that they're not having school that day, that's very inconvenient for working parents or whatever we try to let them know far ahead of time. this system is so significant that's coming in and the weather reports have been so good that this was a good call, this was a comfortable call," he said.