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833 superintendent explains in letter why district did not issue "snow day" for schools Wednesday

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Winter finally made its way to Woodbury Tuesday, Dec. 8 with about a half foot of snowfall recorded in the area. The National Weather Service included communities in District 833 in a winter storm warning Wednesday, but that wasn't quite enough for school officials to call a snow day.

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The last time District 833 closed schools due to weather conditions was last January when the schools closed for two days because of frigid temperatures, not snowfall.

In a letter drafted by District 833 superintendent Mark Porter the district outlines the steps they took on whether to keep schools open or not. The letter is available on the district's Web site.

Porter said at around 4 a.m. he starts observing the weather conditions, consulted with district personnel and surrounding districts.

The Hastings schools were closed on Wednesday, but St. Paul and Stillwater remained open.

District 833 communications director Barb Brown said that some of the buses were running late in the morning, between 20 and 25 minutes, but Brown said all buses completed their routes. Brown said some buses had few students on them because rather than waiting for the buses, children returned home for rides.

Porter said the elements that impact the decision whether to cancel school include: -- the safety of students, both from a weather perspective and the district's ability to safely transport those students who ride the buses; the importance of educating children and how significant the loss of learning could be; the precedent that is set as to future days with similar circumstances and conditions; the fact that parents can and show make responsible decision on behalf of their children.

Unlike some districts, District 833 does not allow for the option of a delayed start or early release because of the number of bus routes and staggered start times, he said in the letter.

"While I remain fully responsible for the decision I made today, I respectfully acknowledge those who disagree, many of whom have expressed their disagreement," Porter said in his letter. "Yes, winter is here and I am sure we will face more tough decisions in the future.

"I will do my best to make the best decision I can each time we are challenged by our Minnesota weather."

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Amber Kispert-Smith
Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.
(651) 702-0976
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