Randy Weseman pointed the finger at himself.
"It's my fault," Lawrence public schools superintendent said, when asked why a decision wasn't announced by 6 a.m. today that schools were canceled - which normally is standard procedure.
"By the time we got the information we needed, it was 15 (minutes) till 6. And by the time our bureaucracy got in place and got it to the media, it was 15 (minutes) after," Weseman said. "I apologize for that. That was the situation. Sometimes that's how it is."
He said the district's public information officer, Julie Boyle, was in Wichita at a conference today, "so the lines of communication were not as fluid."
"If I had made this decision at 5 (a.m.) it would have been easier," Weseman said. "But I didn't have the information I needed. But I knew before 6."
The announcement, which was immediately aired on 6News at 6:16 a.m., when the call came in, and on LJWorld.com and 6NewsLawrence.com, came too late for some people.
Some readers wrote on LJWorld.com that they had quit checking after 6 a.m. and had started getting ready for school, with others sending their students out the door before they got word.
"I know people were inconvenienced and I'm sorry about that. But we try to make it based on information we had at the time," Weseman said.
The district's operating procedure for deciding whether to cancel school is to make an announcement by 10 the night before, if possible, he said. And, if not, then by 6 a.m.
"All of this is under the umbrella that it's important to have school. This is going to be a long winter," he said. "Every day that we don't have school is a day we have to add to the calendar later on."
The district has designated one snow day, April 20, in the 2006-2007 calendar. But Kansas Department of Education regulations allow the district to take one additional day before the district needs to schedule make-up days.
Weseman said none of the larger Kansas school districts, such as those in Johnson County, called off classes before 5:30 a.m. today.
"So we all called about the same time. The smaller rural districts who were concerned about the bus routes called earlier," he said.
Weseman said that as late as 5:15 a.m., he had not found any reason to call off school for the day.
"We had people out driving the roads and the major thoroughfares. I was getting information saying, hey, I'm not having any trouble," he said. "At 5:15 (a.m.) the buses were saying they could run. The wind chill wasn't that high. Then it was a function of what about our parking lots and our sidewalks, can we get those clear."
But between 5:15 a.m. and 5:30 a.m., "I was starting to get different information," Weseman said.
"The major piece was we couldn't get the parking lots and the sidewalks done," he said. "And the side streets were still a problem."
"About 5:45 (a.m.) I started the chain of command moving," he said.
He said the people who were most inconvenienced were probably working families who had to get an early start on the day.
Will school be called off on Friday?
Weseman said he has a meeting this afternoon with the school's busing director, the facilities director and the safety director.
"If it looks like enough information is in place to make a call before the 6 o'clock news, that's what we'll do," he said. "If the snow comes in like they're talking about, I think it's a no brainer. ... If I make a call too early and it cleans up, I get the same number of complaints. If I make a call too late, people are inconvenienced. It was late this morning. But, you know, people were safe."