September 23, 2008

Schools Work to Get Kids Back in Class

For school districts throughout the Miami Valley, decisions on Monday, Sept. 15, depended on more than just the ability to turn lights on.

As administrators assessed their buildings' operation levels and nearby debris from Sunday's massive wind storm, they worked to return students to school as quickly as possible while assuring that food and essentials remained for regular operation if classes resume today.

Many districts held their decisions until as late as possible Monday night, hoping to conserve as many allowable off days as they could.

Concern also turned to feeding students if they did return. Jill Moberley, spokesperson for Dayton Public Schools, said the DPS central kitchen, located on Heid Avenue, lost power because of the storm. The district's new school buildings, though, have kitchens with refrigerators and freezers, so DPS staff moved perishable items to the individual schools to guarantee breakfasts and lunches when students return.

Some school districts, like Oakwood and Kettering, didn't wait as long to call off school for today. Bob Mengerink, superintendent of Kettering City Schools, said the district's central office had power on Sunday night so he and his staff contacted Kettering's principals and asked them to be at their buildings on Monday in case parents didn't receive the message about schools closing.

-- Kyle Nagel, staff writer

Butler County districts concerned with food spoilage

Officials scrambled Monday to assess damages and formulate contingency plans for Butler County schools.

Most school officials said they were waiting to see if power returned before making official decisions on whether school will resume today.

Edgewood City Schools will be closed today due to power outages, said district spokesman John Thomas. Others advised students to listen to the radio and check television reports if possible. Some said they will use their automatic phone alert systems -- if they are working.

Food spoilage is a major concern for all districts, who said they are not yet sure how much it will cost if the power does not return. Lakota officials reported at least $10,000 to $20,000 in milk spoilage. Chris Cline, superintendent of the Madison Local Schools, said the high school has a backup generator that runs on diesel. Carlisle Superintendent Mike Griffith said Springboro is storing all his district's food until power resumes.

Most schools said there were downed trees, but minimal damage. Middletown reported damage to its stadium, Edgewood and Lakota Local had some damage to baseball dugouts, shingles blew off the Madison Intermediate School and a goal post broke on the football field. Hamilton City Schools reported an end gable will have to be torn down and rebuilt after moving several inches at the construction side of its new Ridgeway school. New Miami reported a few broken fences and a damaged shed.

-- Lindsey Hilty, staff writer

Clark County schools report minimal damage

SPRINGFIELD -- Springfield's 16 school buildings did not have any significant damage and the high school had power Monday morning, said Communications Consultant Kim Fish.

"I think we were probably saved by the fact that we have new buildings and don't have any big trees," she said.

Most Clark County districts reported only minor damage from Sunday's winds. Greenon, Springfield, Tecumseh, Northeastern and Northwestern officials said their buildings had no significant problems and some had restored power Monday morning.

Northwestern buildings had power but many areas in the community were still out and some roads seemed dangerous, said Superintendent Anthony Orr.

"I hate missing school but ... based on what I saw in the community that's what I had to do," Orr said.

Clark-Shawnee schools had some significant damage with a roof blown off a district-owned barn and large vents blown from the building roofs, Superintendent Debbie Finkes said. "We had damage but we're still kind of assessing."

Rolling Hills and Shawnee High School only had partial power.

-- Megan Gildow, staff writer

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