He drives for miles before Garrett's school buses roll

February 05, 2010|By Liz Bowie

By the time most readers are picking up their newspapers, Ed Wildesen will have been up for hours, scouring his computer for weather forecasts. Wildesen, director of transportation in the Garrett County school system, is one of the key members of a team that makes the call that 5,000 schoolchildren and their parents are waiting to hear. So, on a day like today, Wildesen is up by 3 a.m. But this isn't a job that he can do in his pajamas. "I get into the car and go. I will drive probably 30 or 40 miles," he said.

After his road trip, he'll phone colleagues around the county and a forecaster in Pennsylvania who has access to weather radar maps. He will touch base with 10 people before a final decision is made with the superintendent about whether to roll the buses. But he's hoping the snow holds off until evening.

Anne Arundel and St. Mary's counties already have asked the Maryland State Department of Education for a waiver to the requirement that students be in school for 180 days every year. Whether they will get it is unclear.

"We really take seriously the 180-day requirement," said Bill Reinhard, a state schools spokesman.

In the meantime, the primary worry for the city schools' chief operating officer, Keith Scroggins, is this: "With a storm of this magnitude, we want to make sure people aren't struggling to get home."

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