News

Winter weather rough on schools

By Kevin Hanson-The Courier-Herald

Last week's blast of frigid, winter weather made for some jangled nerves and white-knuckled drivers, but problems were apparently kept to a minimum.

The most severe impact might have been felt by parents who arose at 5 a.m. for several days, wondering if their children would be attending school - or if the beginning of the school day would be pushed back an hour or two.

In the end, Enumclaw schools started two hours late Jan. 10 and again Friday, sandwiched around a day where everyone was told to stay home.

White River's decision-makers made the same call Thursday and Friday, but had allowed school to begin as usual Jan. 10 - much to the dismay of many students and parents who experienced frightful drives on an icy morning.

Commutes to schools that normally take 15 minutes at most were taking up to an hour, and that was before some of the roads were closed. The road leading into White River High School was particularly dicey, with at least one school bus and a couple of cars finally sitting motionless on the slick pavement.

More than one motorist with a four-wheel drive rig used the wide sidewalk on the south side of the road as a makeshift lane of travel.

The morning's frustrations prompted a note from Superintendent Tom Lockyer, which was sent home with students at the end of the day.

“We certainly faced some challenges...with the winter weather conditions,” Lockyer wrote. “There were a variety of circumstances throughout the district which caused frustration and difficulties for many of our families.”

In his note, the superintendent admitted “a two-hour delay this morning may have been more prudent.”

During that night's meeting of the White River School Board, Lockyer addressed the issue. He noted district personnel had toured the area early in the morning and, on the day in question, roads were passable during the early hours. When things started getting dangerous, he said, students who arrive at the high school for early-morning programs were already at school and others were on the way.

Once a school day is scrapped, the question immediately turns to make-up dates. Here's what local districts have planned thus far:

€ Enumclaw has seen three days lost to inclement weather and has identified March 23 and May 25 as days students will now be attending school; those were originally slated as days off. The third day will be tacked onto the end of the school year, meaning students will now attend until June 18.

€ White River also has lost three days. One make-up day will be taken May 25 (it was already built into the school calendar) and another will be added to the end of the year, making the final day June 22. The third day had not been determined at press time.

€ Carbonado was hit harder during the first storm of the season and has lost five school days. Those are being added to the end of the school year, said Superintendent Scott Hubbard, who noted Carbonado students started before others, so the school year isn't going extraordinarily long. Barring other weather cancellations, students will wrap up the year Jan. 19.

Kevin Hanson can be reached at khanson@courierherald.com.

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