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11 Snow Days and Counting for Gentry Schools

GENTRY, AR -- "It's unusual. It was unexpected, but it is what it is. It's here and we're dealing with it the very best we can."
Driving a Gentry bus route, we discovered this was actually a gravel road
Driving a Gentry bus route, we discovered this was actually a gravel road
"We have to look at it like this is the first day we've missed," -- Superintendent Dr. Randy Barrett
GENTRY, AR -- The Gentry School District is already at 11 snow days and counting.

"It's unusual. It was unexpected, but it is what it is. It's here and we're dealing with it the very best we can."

In the 22 years Superintendent Randy Barrett has been with the district, the most snow days in a school year he remembers is 13. This winter season is still only in the beginning of January, but they are in double digits snow days.

"The weather? That's above my pay grade and I don't control that. We just have to respond to it."

There are about 1,400 students in the rural district and more than half take the bus to school.

"When they're not here, it's kind of like an empty home... We go and look, physically go and look at our routes... We have a lot of sloping terrain and a lot of hills... What I think is one of the greatest fears in any school person's mind is pulling up to a bus stop and a child being there ready to get on and the bus sliding on the ice and sliding into the child and hurting them. There are just too many sunny days in June for us to take that chance. We try to minimize risk as much as possible."

With the five allotted snow days already claimed, Barrett is now looking at holidays and teacher work-days to make up for missed classes and is trying to avoid scheduling Saturday school to make up the difference.

"We publish that calendar a year in advance. People make plans, they schedule vacations and we're very, or try to be, very respectful of that... but if we get to February and we've missed 20 days, obviously we're going to take Spring Break."

But as the snow days keep piling up, Barrett is still keeping safety his main concern and sticking by his philosophy.

"We have to look at the conditions, not the days and we have to look at it like this is the first day we've missed. Is it safe to drive a bus out there? And if the answer is no, we don't."

Click here for more from the Gentry School District.
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