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Monday, May 2, 2016

School's out!

Saturday, August 30, 2003

- Students rejoice and (some) parents complain after three early dismissals

The sweltering days of August have been a "hot topic" recently, and even the Clay Community School Corporation (CCSP) has felt the burn of high temperatures.

All students in the corporation's schools were sent home early three of five days last week, sparking some problems with parents and teachers involved.

Last Thursday marked the third day in a row students were released due to the heat. Early dismissal was also called for last Thursday, marking the total number of days ended early up to four. Bill Schad, Superintendent of the CCSP, has taken some heat because of his policy, though he feels he has made the right decisions.

"I try not to base the decision on what's going to get me nasty phone calls," Schad said. "What I am looking for is the comfortability of the students."

Clay City Elementary and Meridian Elementary are the only two schools in the corporation without air conditioning. Van Buren Elementary has a system installed, though it is not online as of yet.

Schad said that plans are in the works to get every school to a comfortable temperature.

"It's certainly brought the situation into focus," he said when asked if the recent heat has put more pressure on the school to invest in air conditioning, "but the board was planning on putting units in whether there was a heat wave or not.

"It's completely possible to get it done next summer, with some thought and creative financing.

"It's definitely doable," he continued.

Though most schools officially let out at 3, state guidelines say that students can be released up to two hours earlier than dismissal time and still be credited with a full day. This means that while kids don't get all of their hours, they will not have to go extra days at the end of the year to compensate.

"In the end, it's my decision to send the kids home early," Schad said. "The board brought me in to manage things day-to-day. I guess if people need someone to be mad it, it's me."

Other schools that are not directly related to the CCSP were affected by the closures as well. Cornerstone Christian Academy, a school which utilizes the corporation's bus system, also sent children home.

"I haven't had any harsh complaints so far," Linda Samheil, Cornerstone's Principal, said. "The most I've had are phone calls asking why we are releasing the students.

"We're working really hard to make everything work," she said, "and it's unfair to send children who ride the bus home and have other kids here the rest of the day."

Samheil continued to say that while most children were happy for their extra hour-and-a-half, a couple have approached her with concern.

"They come up to me and ask 'again?'," she said.

Schad has not been as lucky on feedback, though it hasn't been too terrible.

"Our office has had a couple of irate calls," he said, "but everyone that I've spoken with has been very understanding of the situation. I use the temperature, humidity, and heat index as a thumbnail guide to my decisions, and while I don't use a specific number, there's a line between comfortability and uncomfortability for students."

On the other end of the spectrum, some parents have had work-related problems due to the early dismissal, though few are willing to speak.

One parent, Sarah Workman, who was picking her child up from Meridian Elementary, did have some problems, though she saw the issue from both sides:

"I went to school here when it was hot, and they very rarely, if ever, canceled," she said. "But, on the other hand, they do need an AC system here so the kids can concentrate on studying and not on the heat."

Another parent says that he doesn't mind the dismissals -- in fact, he'd like to see them come a bit earlier.

"I think the dismissals are fine," Tim Herrick, a Meridian parent, said. "I had to take a late lunch, but that's not an issue. If anything, they should let the kids out earlier so they're not crammed in a school bus during the hottest part of the day.

"If they'd not put so much cash into the junior high and high schools and set some back for the elementaries, situations like this wouldn't happen."

A Meridian teacher, who wished not to be identified, said that students, by nature, enjoy an early day.

"But it can get miserable in here," the teacher continued.

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