School closing is superintendent's decision

By Audrey Wise

January 23, 2014 Updated Jan 23, 2014 at 8:36 PM CDT

Many area schools once again closed their doors Thursday due to dangerous winter weather conditions.

McLean County's Unit 5 schools were closed Thursday for their 4th snow day of the school year.

Superintendent Dr. Gary Niehaus said it's a judgment call, "Do we have any issues with snow removal or issues within the building? More importantly, looking at wind chill and being able to get all the buses started with the colder temperatures."

Meanwhile, class was in session for Bloomington District 87 students. Dr. Niehaus said Unit 5 covers over 200 square miles, where District 87 is much more urban.

"When we get weather and drifting and snow and wind chills, we're impacted a little differently," he said.

District 87 Superintendent Dr. Barry Reilly agrees snow days are a superintendent judgment call. He said the wind chill factors Thursday morning put him on the verge closing. He said the district is made up of many low income and single-parent households. Knowing the kids would be warm and have a hot meal was a major factor in his decision to stay open.

Meanwhile,District 150 was also open Thursday. They are historically known for rarely closing.

Concerned parent Sarah Suwalski said, "It was horrible. No one should be out. I think the school district made a really bad call by not calling off."

Suwalski thinks the district has a bad gauge on when to call off school. She thinks they need a set of criteria.

District 150 Spokesperson Chris Coplan said, "It's always a balancing act and trying to ensure students safety while making sure that we have school for the number of days required by the state."

School officials said parents always have to option to keep kids home if they don't think the conditions are safe.