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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.
News / Opinion / Editorials

Give school transportation officials a break

By Heather Acheson, Columbian staff writer
Published: February 10, 2014, 4:00pm

The Clark County area is just now recovering from one of the longest stretches of nasty winter weather in recent years.

City crews, including public works employees and emergency responders, were kept on their toes throughout the weekend, taking care of problems ranging from frozen pipes and sewer alarms to car accidents and other medical emergencies.

But one of the more challenging jobs may be that of local school district transportation officials, who must ultimately make the recommendation as to whether classes are cancelled, delayed or remain on time. This job is unenviable for many reasons, not the least of which is that no matter what decision is made, it seems, they will bear the brunt of public criticism, outrage and complaints.

In order to make the call one way or another, transportation officials often drive local roads in the early morning hours to assess safety and navigability. Camas and Washougal pose particular challenges in this regard, as winter weather impacts can vary greatly depending on elevation. The weather on Prune Hill in Camas or Bear Prairie in Washougal can be in stark contrast to what is happening in the cities’ downtown areas. So, in the end, officials make a call that impacts all students no matter where they live.

And when that happens, decision-makers are often raked over the coals by parents, questioning the validity of the choice that is made.

There is no doubt that it can be stressful for moms, dads and caregivers to scramble to figure out what to do with their children when school is cancelled or delayed at the last minute due to weather. But the truth is that in the Pacific Northwest, it is a rarity.

To sum it up, let’s ease up on the harsh criticism of our local school transportation officials. The reality is that they work hard to make the best decisions they can, with the information they have available, to help keep our children as safe as possible.

Columbian staff writer