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SCHOOL UPDATE: No 90-minute late start, Renton schools decide to close; Kent schools closed

• For late starts or closures, visit Renton School District's Web site at http://www.renton.wednet.edu/

Renton School District officials canceled school for the day around 8:30 this morning, an amendment to the 90-minute late start the district announced at about 5 a.m. this morning.

"At 4 a.m. that was the right decision," district spokesperson Randy Matheson said of the initially scheduled late start.

A group of district staff, including Transportation Director Ron Schepers and Superintendent Dr. Mary Alice Heuschel, drove the dry roads of the district at 4 a.m.

"At that time the roads were fine — very drivable," Matheson said.

Still, the superintendent ordered a late start for the benefit of students and staff commuting to school from outside the district.

But then calls started coming in from staff members stuck in traffic and parents wondering why school was still scheduled.

Then snow began falling in Renton, and at about 8:30 a.m. district officials extended the closure for the entire day.

Because of the scheduled late start, middle-school students weren't expected to arrive at school until about 10 a.m., and elementary students about 10:30 a.m. Matheson said only a few of those students — the children of parents or guardians who didn't get the late-start message — showed up at school.

High schoolers were scheduled to arrive earlier than the younger students, and a few were transported to school. By about 10 a.m., Matheson said all of those students had returned home, by bus or parent pick-up.

If the snow continues Friday, Matheson said district schools probably won't open. But if the temperature rises and there's enough snow melt, officials will take another look.

Another district group will drive the streets at 4 a.m. Friday.

Matheson said district officials try to err on the side of keeping schools open, where students are guaranteed education, food and warmth.

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