Several readers asked us how the district decides whether or not to cancel school during inclement weather.
The safety of our students and staff always drives the decision. The first consideration is the road conditions, both in the Park Cities and for our faculty members who are driving in from outside the area. Approximately 83 percent of HPISD employees live outside district boundaries, which means commuting from various parts of the Metroplex using freeways, overpasses and bridges that often pose dangerous driving conditions.
A second consideration is the forecast for the day. We want to be sure our students and staff can arrive and return home safely. If a storm is predicted to arrive during the school day or if icy conditions are not expected to be alleviated during the course of the day, we take those considerations into account.
Third, we check our buildings to ensure that heating units are working and to check for burst pipes. During this last storm, we had some minor problems with damaged pipes, but our maintenance staff caught the problems early, and as a result, we were able to resume school without any disruption. Our maintenance staff also assesses icy conditions on sidewalks, parking lots and the HPHS parking garage and works to contain any hazards those create.
As far as timing, the decision on whether to open, close or delay schools is always made by 6 a.m. We post announcements on www.hpisd.org, HP-TV, in districtwide e-mails and on the main switchboard message (214-780-3000). We also inform television and radio stations. When we make the decision earlier than 6 a.m., we use the same steps to notify families and staff right away.