Strong winds, ice lead to early weekend for Oconto Falls students

Students in the Oconto Falls School District were released early Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, due to weather. (WLUK/Andrew LaCombe)
Students in the Oconto Falls School District were released early Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, due to weather. (WLUK/Andrew LaCombe)

OCONTO FALLS - Periodic whiteouts and roads loaded with snow and ice caused the Oconto Falls School District to close two hours early Friday.

By looking at patches of blue sky over Oconto Falls High School, you might have questioned that decision. But Superintendent David Polashek says his buses have to travel a total of 3,000 miles a day, and conditions often vary widely through the district.

That's what we found as we drove on roads just a couple miles from the high school.

Friday's decision was made after talking to bus drivers following the morning commute.

"Drivers coming back in had some reports of rather poor conditions, combination of ice and blowing," said Polashek.

He says he considered delaying the start of school.

"At 6:30, we knew the conditions were not real good, but at the same time, that's really too late to make a call for a late start," he said.

Shelley Bauldry of Abrams picked up her grandchildren from Abrams Elementary Friday afternoon. She thinks conditions were more treacherous before school began.

"I thought it was worse this morning. I thought they should have had a delay rather than a two hour early release," said Bauldry.

Darien Prunty of Little Suamico, picked up her daughter from school. Prunty says her drive isn't far, but she knows many students have a long commute home.

"It's drifting and it's icy on the country roads, so I'm really not that surprised," said Prunty.

Conditions were very similar last month during Winter Storm Braden. That's when five Oconto Falls school buses got stuck on the roads. We asked the superintendent if that storm affected how he approached this one.

"I think we're a little more cautious about it," said Polashek.

Polashek says he constantly watches the forecast and conditions throughout the winter, looking out for the safety of his 1,800 students.

Students won't have to make up the two hours they lost Friday. Oconto Falls has canceled classes for three full days this year. Students will make up one of those days during spring break.