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Spokane schools to open, but others to stay closed

Mon., Jan. 5, 2009, 5:33 p.m.

Spokane Public Schools will have classes Tuesday, according to the district’s Web site, but several other districts have opted to remain closed.

Those include West Valley School District, East Valley School District, Central Valley School District, Riverside School District, Nine Mile School District and Cheney School District.

At a news conference this afternoon, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich cited the safety of students who walk as one of the reasons he urged schools to remain closed today.

One of the concerns, he said, has been that most of these students must walk in the streets because of snow berms on sidewalks. But, Knezovich said, he is not ready to give deputies the order to start issuing tickets to business or home owners who do not keep their sidewalks clear.

“There are so many miles of sidwalks that are not shoveled, we don’t have the resources to ticket everybody who is not doing so,” Knezovich said.

Knezovich lifted his “strong recommendation” for closures but advised parents of students who would be walking to school Tuesday to accompany them. He also asked drivers to be especially watchful.

Part of the reason Knezovich made the call to suggest schools remain closed was a forecast that indicated the Spokane area could receive 11 inches of snow Sunday night.

“This is a once in a lifetime event for this community, or at least I hope it is,” the sheriff said regarding the record levels of snowfall this winter. “If I see there is a danger to our children, I will take the same action. We will not sacrifice the safety of our children.”

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