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Schools in Northwest Arkansas Struggle with Decision to Declare Snow Day

Most of Tuesday's winter weather made its way into Benton County, especially in rural areas, and whether or not to declare a snow day has been a controversial decision for some schools to make.
Most of Tuesday's winter weather made its way into Benton County, especially in rural areas, and whether or not to declare a snow day has been a controversial decision for some schools to make.

In Decatur, that decision wasn't based on snow accumulation as much as it was the timing, and how fast it fell.

"The snow started coming down faster than it could melt off the streets," said Superintendent Larry Ben.

But before the flakes started falling, Decatur school buses were ready to roll out.

Superintendent Dr. Larry Ben says drivers began reporting that streets were getting slicker by the second.

"We just had to change the plans," Ben said, making it an official snow day for about 500 students.

"That's the latest we've called, made that decision that I know of," Ben says.

The Decatur School District covers about 50 square miles, with six bus routes that can be miserable to manuever through with snow on the ground.

"There are dirt roads that we have to navigate, and some hills," Decatur Police Chief Terry Luker says. "They're usually worse than the city streets because for some reason they don't thaw out as quick."

Chief Luker says road conditions seemed to improve just as quickly as they had worsened, despite being in such a rural part of Benton County.

"City roads and the highways here in the city thawed out fairly quickly," Luker said.

Superintendent Ben stands by the decision to play it safe after Tuesday's snowy start, but as for Wednesday, it was a little too early to tell.

"We should be OK for tomorrow, but I thought we were going to be OK for today, too. So, you never know this time of year," Ben said.
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