Snow Jam 2014


Now that we’re through the worst of it — please discuss your thoughts and experiences with what many are calling “Snowpocalypse”.

Share any suggestions you may wish to add to our suggested list of emergency protocol actions to recommend to the Board.

It wasn’t so much the snow that caused the gridlock – it was poor communication, poor planning and urban sprawl.

For a very interesting perspective on why and how this paralyzing gridlock occurred, read this >>

The Day We Lost Atlanta: How 2 lousy inches of snow paralyzed a metro area of 6 million


Oh – and if you can handle the truth about how the rest of the country sees the south – have a look at John Stewart’s Daily Show commentary on our snowstorm.

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69 Responses to Snow Jam 2014

  1. howdy1942 says:

    I also agree. There seems to be some misunderstanding about Title I funds being “free” money. I just finished my Federal taxes and they were substantial. When I see things such as a Government shutdown where some Federal employees got both unemployment checks and backpay, where we have a Congress that seems to get so little accomplished, to see one that delivered a health care insurance program that resulted in many fine companies such as IBM, Walgreens, and AT&T casting retirees onto the Health Care Exchanges which, in my case, will increase my expense by over $2500 per year, that funds a program that flies people to fancy resort areas such as that in San Diego, that funds “parent” centers when our class sizes are so large, that allows our teachers to be forced to take furlough days – well, you get my drift! Try putting retired Federal Workers on the Health Care Exchanges and see what happens!

    Title I funds are not “free” – those dollars belong to all of us who shell out so much in tax dollars. I wish that we did not have withholding and that each taxpayer had to write a check on April 15 of every year for the total amount of taxes owed. Then we would see how long some of this waste would be tolerated!

  2. Dunwoody A says:

    My youngest is a special ed student at DES and it took 8 hours for him to get home on Tuesday. About 7 on the bus and then we walked about 3 miles up to Ashford Dunwoody to get him. The driver and bus aide were wonderful throughout. I’m so glad they have a bus aide this year, because she was great out keeping in touch with the no-progress. There were at least 2 other DES buses out that late based on postings on the FB page and I’ve heard that there were students at PCMS until either midnight or 3 am.

  3. This and That says:

    This topic seems to have two topics running through it. The first, Snow Jam 2014 – it is my understanding that a full school day must consist of the “students staying at school until 11:30am AND all the students have had lunch served.” I can not find the information to back this up so I hope someone here can do it.

    Second, SAM convention. I teach special education (19 years in DeKalb). We use to (5+ years ago) have Trainers come to us (East DeKalb Campus – Special Education) for professional learning several times a year – some with stipends! It was all Special Education topics and training. Some times after school and sometimes during the summer. When I would share with general education teachers they were envious that they could not have attended. I hope we can go back to that.

    I am going to ask my Principal on Monday if he is using SAM and what he thinks about it. We have something called a “Leadership Committee”. I am wondering if that is really the SAM committee.

    The big thing now is “Webinars”. Must view Webinar on such and such a date. We then sign a form in the office that we saw it. Sometimes we view it at a staff meeting. I think that would be good for all at this time due to the class increases and furlough days. Anyway, this is just my 2 cents and hope to get some responses. Thanks!

  4. September says:

    Spending money on expensive conferences seems very extravagant when teachers are not being paid their full salaries and students sit in overcrowded classrooms. For the money we are spending to send people to this conference, we could have paid to have the presenters to come here. More people could be trained that way. These are my tax dollars and they should be spent carefully.

    As for the snow, we could have done a better job. Yes, DeKalb fared better than other school systems, but we had teachers who got stranded in the traffic. I have to admit, I was skeptical about the snow. If you are going to send children home early, you should be telling parents in the morning. Making the announcement early, would have helped parents. Looking back, the best answer was to cancel and know that, if the snow didn’t fall, we would be criticized for it.

  5. BTW – did you all watch the Daily Show with John Stewart’s report on our snowstorm? Hilarious —

  6. This whole snow episode must have been terrifying for the bus drivers. God bless them all for their determination, their nerves of steel and their love and care of the children!

  7. what_what says:

    Nothing much to add here but one of my personal gripes…….
    If you look at the photo attached to this article, you will see several cars that do not have their lights on. I hate this-if is snowing or raining please use your lights! It makes it easier to see your car. I

  8. Augustus says:

    Perhaps the conference is being paid for with the proceeds from renting out Adams Stadium. They are filming the new Stephen King movie there.

  9. The AJC asked superintendents for their responses to going ahead with school Tuesday. Read them below:

    Stuart Gulley, president, Woodward Academy >> Letter to school community Wednesday: I apologize. Words cannot express fully the deep regret I feel for the unimaginable horror so many members of our community experienced yesterday in their commute home. Hindsight is always much clearer, and from that perspective the decision to release at 1:40, even to have conducted school at all, was wrong… . We have (and will) learn lessons from yesterday’s episode.

    Robert Avossa, Fulton County >> From a statement issued Wednesday: The decision made yesterday to close early was based on information we received from meteorologists and emergency management experts… . But even with that information, the winter storm came in faster and more severe than forecasted. The target area for the storm also changed from south of Fulton County to more north.

    Frank Petruzielo, Cherokee County >> From a statement issued Thursday: We based our decision to hold classes on Tuesday and the subsequent decision to close early using the most recent weather information available… . Had we or our neighboring school systems known the speed or severity of this storm further in advance, we would never have held school on Tuesday.

    Jay Dillon, Cobb County schools spokesman >> From an email to the AJC Wednesday: Based on the weather reports and other information we had late Monday night and into Tuesday morning, there was no reason for us to believe that a major weather event would impact the northern Atlanta suburbs the way it did, beginning at 9 a.m… . Had the forecasts suggested that would take place, we would have canceled school.

    Alvin Wilbanks, Gwinnett >> From an interview Thursday: We were discussing 4 a.m. in the morning [Tuesday] about the day, and we decided according to all reports we could get, we could get a day of school in… . The overwhelming majority of our students were home on time.”

    Errol Davis, Atlanta>> I certainly want to apologize to the students, and their families, who were stranded overnight on buses. I also want to apologize for the challenges and difficulties that our students, families and employees have faced over the past few days… . If we had to repeat this scenario, we would do things differently.

    Michael Thurmond, DeKalb County >> From an interview Wednesday: If it hadn’t snowed at all, then there would have been second-guessing: “Why did you close?” [Thurmond called the weather forecast “iffy” and said the real problem on Tuesday was traffic, not weather:] Everybody decided to go home at the same time.

    DSW2 comment >> And – why did everyone leave work at the same time? TO PICK UP THEIR KIDS FROM SCHOOL – because they all got texts and emails saying that their kids were being released in less than one hour!!

  10. On the flip side – we are all grateful to Michelle Sollicito, founder of the FaceBook group SnowedOutAtlanta and its sub groups who through their FB connectivity were able to get literally thousands of people out of the cold and to a place of safety – or home!

    Michelle’s response to all of the media attention:

  11. This and That says:

    Augustus said: “Perhaps the conference is being paid for with the proceeds from renting out Adams Stadium. They are filming the new Stephen King movie there.”

    I am a graduate of Briarcliff High School (’78) where Adams Stadium is located. I use to march in the field when it was half time (Baronette). Is the Steven King movie really filming in the stadium? If so, where did you find out about this?? How cool!

    Briarcliff High (recently the Jim Cherry Center and Open Campus and DeKalb School of the Arts High) was used for the filming of several shows. Teen Wolf on MTV was filmed for several years at Briarcliff (Beaver High – so many of the BHS could stay) until they moved to film in LA after the 2012 season.

  12. dekalbteach says:

    Mr. Thurmond was on TV Wednesday (phone interview) stating that he wouldn’t do anything differently! Really? How is it that at 7:30 Tuesday morning the Weather Channel had the snow hitting my school between 11-12 and continuing throughout the day? Guess what- the snow started between 11-12. I’m sure DCSS is thanking their lucky stars for Cobb and APS stealing the news with the many stranded students in their schools.

  13. dsw2contributor says:

    San Diego Conferences: There are two different conferences in San Diego: (1) The SAM conference ( that ends this evening and (2) the Title-I Conference ( that starts tomorrow (Sunday) and runs thru Wednesday.

    (1) SAM CONFERENCE: I’ve heard that DCS sent a half-dozen Principals and 3 or 4 other staff to this “7th Annual National SAM/Principal Conference”. (SAM stands for “School Administrator Manager”.) They flew out to the conference late on Thursday evening and are flying home tomorrow (Sunday); had this been a normal school week, they would have only been out of their buildings for a single day (Friday).

    I was also told that only employees enrolled in the SAM program were sent to San Diego; the Principals sent to San Diego are the ones who have actually had their workday activities documented every 5 minutes. Allegedly, if a school system signs up a Principal for SAM, that Principal is expected to go to the conference — the cost to attend is included in the program fee.

    Supposedly, Gwinett has a large group of their Principals doing SAM, those Gwinett Principals all went to the SAM conference as well, and Gwinett & DCS are supposedly working very closely on the SAM process together.

    TITLE-I CONFERENCE: This does not start until tomorrow, so I am not sure who DCS is sending to this, nor can I say long they are going to be out there. Hopefully one of us can find out.

  14. Again — PLEASE report back to this blog post as to whether your principal or one you know attended this conference.

  15. howdy1942 says:

    I was intrigued by your quote of Michael Thurmond – that the traffic was the problem and not the weather. I’ve been in Atlanta traffic many times and, while traffic is often slowed, it still gets cleared on a typical day. Students don’t have to spend the night at schools, their buses don’t run out of gas requiring them to leave the bus and walk at great risk to buildings, and people are not required to sleep at Home Depot! Mr. Thurmond – it was the weather!! And I have never faulted anyone who made a judgment that erred on the side of safety for our kids and teachers! That sure would have been much easier to explain than what happened. Concern for the safety and well-being of our people is the paramount requisite of a good leader!

    Yes,@DSW – I did see Jon Stewart and Jay Leno and Erin Burnett, etc. All of us should be so proud! Whether anyone agrees with any of them, they do have a large national following and, at best, they were amused and probably had a lot of questions. Erin Burnett interviewed Reed and she just took him apart – he should have just stayed home!

    Perhaps the most troubling aspect of this whole matter is that the Atlanta metro area does not seem to have any emergency plan whatsoever! What would happen if, God forbid, we had a tragedy at our airport during rush hour? What would happen if we had something on the scale of 9/11 downtown that required a mass exodus? We have got, just got to develop a regional transportation plan and that can’t consist of multiple transit systems or can it consist of widening still further I20, I75, I85, or I285. I know that people have issues with MARTA, but we need to solve those issues and expand its reach throughout the metro area. I understand that the Super Bowl Committee has already expressed concerns about Atlanta’s ability to handle emergency crises. Unless we can get some kind of a regional transportation plan in place, to include an emergency plan, we will soon be paying a high price in terms of economic development, new jobs, and revenues as conventions and conferences find other destinations.

  16. H.A. Hurley says:

    dekalbteach ~
    It is still amazing for me to fathom that M.Thurmond is in charge of DCS. Has such little intellect, no education related skills, and appears to maintain a total news blackout in DCS. The DCS App is useless and not worth the MBs used to store it on my iPad.
    The storm on Tuesday was horrendous, placed thousands carelessly in harm’s way, stressed out the entire nation and all my European relatives, added hours of work to underpaid bus drivers and teachers, damaged thousands of car and many people had to pay for towing.
    Are we utterly insane? Can’t these highly paid folks do anything right? We look and appear to be the dumbest people in the US, and M.Thurmond is satisfied with himself and his accomplishments?
    School should have been closed on Tuesday. Many of us were concerned before our city imploded.
    It is a universal fact that parents will do anything to get to their children! We all watched the weather forecast and could predict and plan accordingly. Our Leaders, the Gov, Mayor and all Superintendents drank the same clueless coolade. P.a.t.h.e.t.i.c!

    The News Black Out of DCS & DC (no news leaked) was so effective that DCS Twitter was Silent, Lee May was Silent, the DCS website was Silent. Yet, high school students were stranded because Marta quit in some areas and some children were stranded on buses.
    Any thoughts about the SILENCE and NEWS BLACK OUT IN DC & DCS? Very noticeable compared to the other counties. I do not think it is an accident.
    APS Twitter tweeted nonstop 24/7 keeping parents, kids, schools and news folks in contact. It was a necessary life line…while @dekalbschools was SILENT!
    WE SHOULD ALL BE CONCERNED AND INSIST ON HAVING INPUT ON ANY PLANS GOING FORWARD! Especially, concerning our kids, schools, teachers and 1/2 day dismissals.
    1/2 day dismissals were executed about 25 years ago with disastrous results in Fulton CoSchools, where young children came home, sitting on stoops, freezing and parents hours away. That’s what happened in FCS. Dangerous and careless.

  17. Tucker Mom says:

    I don’t know if this article about heroic bus drives and teachers is behind the paywall, but I found it really inspiring and wanted to share:

  18. The devil’s in the details Fred. I happen to be of the opinion that there was nothing in the SACS report that was verifiable and that giving an independent, private CEO that much latitude is dangerous.

  19. concerned citizen says:

    Oh, so Mr. Thurmond wouldn’t do anything different, would he? No big surprise since he says and does the same things over and over, never any relation to what is being discussed or asked. It’s quite comical if you can get pass the pathetic level of his “remarks(?).

  20. concerned citizen says:

    I meant to say “past.”

  21. You all may enjoy a piece penned by a writer from outside the perimeter that places this in its proper perspective, free of the election year politics that are driving most of the media coverage-

  22. dsw2contributor says:

    dekalbschoolwatch said “Again — PLEASE report back to this blog post as to whether your principal or one you know attended this conference.”

    Yes — actual DCS Principals attended the SAM conference in San Diego.

  23. concerned citizen says:

    Which ones, dsw3contributor? Who selected them? What teachers? Who selected them? Who authorized this trip? Who is the Title I Director? What was the total expense?

  24. howdy1942 says:

    @DSW – Thanks for sharing that article written by that guy in Chattanooga. I’ll bet that he is either a friend of the Governor or on his payroll! From my perspective, this decision was simple and really a no-brainer: Either make a decision that might err on the side of personal safety or make a decision that might err on the behalf of commerce. There were plenty of warnings from all the local weather forecasters, from CNN, from NPR, and from so many other sources. The problem is that they were intentionally ignored and all the task forces appointed by anyone cannot get beyond that. Schools, at a minimum, should have been closed. To me, the most difficult image to accept is that of school children being forced to spend the night at schools in an emergency situation. One ameliorating factor might be is that even had some been able to get home, their parents might have been stuck in traffic. The Governor can apologize and apologize, appoint task force after task force, but if he ignores the warnings, this same thing will happen again and again.

    One crying need we all have, especially in situations like we experienced last week is a single region-wide transit system that has rail hubs in the suburbs. I know that it will take years for that system to be built, but we need to begin. I recall very well that even the initial stages of the existing MARTA rail system weren’t in place until around 1979 and then it was just from Avondale to Georgia State. But it grew and expanded. And we need to at least start the expansions throughout the metro Atlanta area. I found MARTA to be such a relief when riding from my office in midtown to catch flights at the airport. And during the snow storm of 1982, I was able to ride MARTA to Avondale where I was able to get home in my car. There is simply no way that I could have done that otherwise. When MARTA was approved by voters in Dekalb and Fulton, Gwinnett was still relatively small as was even Cobb and certainly Forsyth Counties. They will never, of their own accord, vote to accept MARTA because it would allow “those people” to access their communities. That can only be done by the State and it’s time for it to step up and solve this problem. Until they do, the Atlanta area will continue to decline in terms of economic development and job creation. We just need to get beyond the racial issues that now divide us and “walk the talk” when we say that is not a issue.

  25. The following was sent to us by Fred, a regular on the blogs. What do you all think? >>

    @DSW, if I could make a suggestion, it would be interesting to have a topic to see how others think DeKalb should make up the snow days. Ironically this is also being discussed on the AJC site. It seems the state may waive 4 days for all school districts. I understand Thurmond has suggested possible going to school on President’s Day (2/17) or adding time to each remaining school day. Others have suggested using days from Spring break or adding days to the end of the school year. Every option has it pro and con.

    As someone mentioned, I recall years ago that days were added to the calendar and given back as long weekends if they weren’t needed. That is something to consider in future calendars.

  26. This and That says:

    I have been teaching in DeKalb since the early ’90s. I have experienced both the add on days to the end of the school year, opening on Saturday for classes, and adding minutes to each school day. It all was helpful except for adding minutes to each school day. That was not a very efficient way to get learning accomplished. I pray that what ever the decision is made that the “adding of minutes” is not chosen. This is from been there done that experience!

    I agree to adding days back to the calendar to be used as “snow days”. Then converted to long weekends if not used. I guess since we did not use them as snow days for a few years so the board eliminated them.

  27. Teachers matter says:

    The suggestion I am most in favor of is for the future. Having those days already in place relieved the stress of calling a snow day, and the long weekends that we earned when the snow days were not used were a welcome break. I am totally against taking days from spring break. Many parents, as well as teachers, have already made plans (some involving airlines and hotels) for that week. Adding minutes to days would be ineffective, so if necessary, I support adding days to the end of the year.

  28. Oh brother… every school up north makes up lost days due to literally FEET of snow dropped on them. But somehow, in Georgia, we just can’t manage to get back on track. So – we’ll just skip it!

    State Board of Education gives districts flexibility to not make up days cancelled because of storms

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