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Schools cancel classes

ALBANY -- The Dougherty County School System will take its first snow day in several years today.

Public Information Director R.D. Harter said the 16,000-student school system will utilize Friday's snow day as a furlough day. All of its 26 schools will be closed, but 12-month DCSS employees will need to report to their jobs. The snow day will extend students' and teachers' winter break, which starts next week and runs Monday-Wednesday, by one day.

"We will be using the furlough day that was scheduled for next Thursday, and that will be used (today)," Harter said. "And we'll be open next Thursday and Friday, Feb. 18-19, for full school days."

On Monday, the Dougherty County Board of Education had approved the use of Feb. 18, March 12 and May 25 as furlough days, which Gov. Sonny Perdue requested last month due to the state's continued economic struggles.

Dougherty joins Lee, Worth and Terrell county school systems that announced early Thursday afternoon that they would close schools today. Terrell Academy also will be closed due to forecasted snow.

"With all the other systems closed, it makes sense and we want to make sure to eliminate the risk of accidents because of the potential bad weather," Harter said.

The National Weather Service in Tallahassee, Fla., is forecasting 2 to 3 inches of snow in metro Albany, 3 to 4 inches in Lee County and a 90 percent chance of precipitation.

The Mitchell County School System, Deerfield-Windsor School, Byne Christian and Sherwood Christian schools all had yet to make a decision as to whether they would close for snow as of Thursday night. But school officials at each location said they would notify students if they decided to close school today through each school's Web site or would alert media outlets.

Darton College, Albany Technical College, Tifton's Abraham Baldwin College and Americus' Georgia Southwestern State College are also expecting to be open today.

Albany State University will be closed today, but not because of snow. The university had already set aside the day as one of its furlough days. The Bainbridge College Early County Center in Blakely will be closed today due to predicted snow. The college's driver's education class will be held as scheduled Saturday.