School was supposed to start on August 15th. The keyword in that sentence is "supposed." As you can tell by the fact that I am blogging during normal school hours, school is not in session today, nor was it yesterday. For the first time since I have been a teacher, the start of school has been delayed. Why?
In the worst wind storm since the remnants of Hurricane Ike blasted through Louisville, over 100,000 LG&E customers were without electricity after Saturday's thunderstorm. 48 schools in the district were affected in some way by the storms. As of Sunday even, there were still a dozen schools without power. Monday's school day, the first school day of the 2011-2012 school year, was cancelled. By 5:30PM on Monday evening, classes were again cancelled for Tuesday.
There are a lot of issues that go into the decision to close the schools. My school is fully functional. We have power, internet and phone lines. I know because I went into work on Monday to finish a few last minute things. Schools without power is not the only issue. While our internet and phone lines worked fine, another sixty schools were without both. While this might seem unimportant to education, you'd really be surprised how crippling losing both can be to a school, especially on the first day.
Attendance is taken using the internet. On the first day of school, some students are enrolled in one school, but show up at another. Through attendance on the internet, this is fixed. Without the internet, I wouldn't be able to even print an up to date roster to take attendance by hand. And the phone lines? You've just had a family emergency and you need to call the school so that your child can be sent home with a relative. You can't. A student has a seizure and I need someone immediately. I'd have to send another student to physically take the message to the front office and trust that they known up to get there in the first place.
Regardless of the missing technology, the city is still riddled with non-functioning intersections and fallen trees blocking roadways. A major intersection with no lights is supposed to be treated as a four way stop. That's hard enough for me to manage as an adult in a vehicle. I can only imagine how stressful it might be to a child walking to school for the first day of the school year.
There are those who are unhappy with the decision to call off school for the first two days. I'll admit that I'm less than pleased at the delay. However, my displeasure is not aimed at the people who have made the decision. I'm annoyed with the circumstances, but I recognize that it is still the right decision to make. Moreover, I'm impressed with our new superintendent, Donna Hargens' ability to make the decision early enough for parents to make alternate plans. There have been days when I've already been out of the shower and halfway through my coffee only to find out that school has been cancelled. Keeping with her ability to make decisions in a timely manner, Hargens released the news that school would be in session tomorrow as I composed this blog entry and 10:45AM.
Well done on your first major obstacle, Dr. Hargens.