When school districts in Northwest Arkansas decided before daybreak to let buses roll, most streets were clear of snow accumulation.
The problem for Bentonville is that many of their buses were later traveling routes just as the heaviest snow began to fall.
That led to some slippery situations for about a dozen buses – and questions about why the buses were allowed to run at all.
A car rear-ended a school bus carrying 18 students Tuesday (Feb. 26) on Highway 102 in Centerton, said Mary Ley, spokeswoman for Bentonville Public Schools.
There were no injuries, Ley said.
That incident was one of a half-dozen involving Bentonville Public Schools buses early Tuesday as snow blanked parts of Northwest Arkansas, including Benton County.
Six empty buses that had already dropped students off at school slid off slick roads on the way back to the district bus barn, Ley said.
A Benton County dispatcher said a Bentonville school bus became stuck in snow on Oldham Road in Bella Vista, blocking traffic as the bus was pulled out..
Some parents say school should’ve been canceled.
“They can extend school throughout the summer if we need too to make up the days,” said Kim McDaniel. “It’s not worth the risk of having them out on unsafe or potentially unsafe roads.”
Sonya Mendoza agrees.
“I think the school should’ve been cancelled as my daughter rides a bus and it makes me worry about her riding the bus,” she said.
Ley says the district has to make a decision to cancel school no later than 5:45 in the morning.
“The bus director makes that decision from his own people, specific drivers that have been designated to check specific areas that are problematic,” she said. “And then he calls his supervisor to report his findings and the bus director and the director make that decision.”
She says students were almost to the various schools in the district as snow started to fall heavily.
“It made more sense when we were closer to the schools to drop them off, keep them safe, have our school day and it didn’t look like temps were gonna drop,” she said. “And the snow was going yto stop before kids were let out. It would be safer to take them to school then to turn around.”
Others say the district made the right decision knowing that the weather wasn’t going to intensify throughout the day.
“For seven buses to go off the road it must have been a little slicker than they anticipated,
said Rick Fulks. “But that kind of happens when the weather comes in. But I don’t think it’s necessary to close school since the roads weren’t that bad and there weren’t any major accidents or traffic backlogs this morning.”
Ley says most of the problem areas were in Bella Vista which has steep hills.
By late Tuesday afternoon much of the snow had started to melt in Benton County and road conditions had improved since the morning.