Icy roads force school closures

Arctic air and wintery precipitation found its way to the Liberty Hill area in recent weeks forcing the cancellation of school twice within five days.

Liberty Hill ISD was among most Central Texas school districts that closed school on Jan. 24 and again Tuesday due to hazardous road conditions.

Superintendent Rob Hart said closing school is not a decision taken lightly.

“We start at 4 a.m. driving roads with designated transportation and maintenance staff with certain areas to check,” he said. “They report back in to Administration. We also consider weather advisories, TxDOT (Texas Department of Transportation) and DPS (Department of Public Safety) reports.”

On both days, campus administrators notified parents through automated messaging about 6 a.m. that school would be delayed by two hours. But by 8 a.m., parents were notified again that the decision had been made to cancel school for the day.

On both days, road conditions had not improved and on Tuesday, conditions worsened after daybreak.

Hart said the district still receives credit for student attendance if classes begin by 10 a.m. School districts receive state funding based on average daily attendance.

“Starting at noon does not give us credit for a full day,” he said.

Hart explained that the state requires districts to build in at least two bad weather days into the school calendar each year.

“Those two days are used as make up days and any additional days may be waived (although not guaranteed) by TEA (Texas Education Agency) under certain acceptable circumstances,” he said.

According to the school calendar, Liberty Hill students and staff are scheduled to make up this week’s used bad weather days on April 18 and May 23.

Although law enforcement officials reported numerous collisions — many with injuries — throughout Central Texas on Jan. 24 and again this week, Liberty Hill Police Chief Randy Williams said local officers only responded to one minor accident last Friday downtown. No injuries were reported.