Last Wednesday, during the third-worst snowstorm in Salt Lake City's recorded history, when state and local government offices closed, when private schools closed, when many business closed, and when the airport closed for the first time in 22 years, the public schools remained open. Two reasons were given for this ludicrous decision: Power was available to all schools -- despite the fact that power lines all over the valley were breaking under the weight of snow and falling tree limbs, and any school could suddenly be left dark and cold. Buses could make their rounds - despite the fact that UTA buses were stuck for hours. One reason I have not publicly stated but have heard repeated in one school after another was that the five district administrations presented a united font to force the state Legislature to revise the policy of withholding funds for school closures.

The day was a farce, of course, since many parents - showing far better sense than administrators - kept their children home from school. Many had no alternative because road crews, faced with a Herculean task, which they managed magnificently, could not even get to residential streets until mid-afternoon, after the school day would have ended anyway.Whatever problems administrators may face with finances or makeup days, their primary obligation is to the safety and welfare of children. Yesterday's decision went far beyond simple stupidity and irresponsibility; it borders on criminal.

Colleen Whitley

Salt Lake City