USD 329 cancels school for weather, energy conservation

Emma Alderman | news editor

Why did we not have school Wednesday, February 17?

USD 329 schools were closed on Wednesday, February 17 and many people are wondering why. 

Going into the weekend the forecast was looking to be lower temperatures than had been experienced so far this winter. In preparation for the below freezing weather the custodians throughout the district left water dripping in the modulars and other buildings with water lines exposed to outside in the hope of keeping the pipes from freezing. 

Friday, February 12 and Monday the 15th were already scheduled off for parent teacher conferences and professional development comp time, and Tuesday the 16th was canceled due to extreme cold.

On Friday February 12 the district was contacted by the city of Alma to help with the heating gas shortage. The custodians proceeded to turn down the thermostats and continuously check the buildings throughout the weekend to ensure there were no issues. “The only place to date that’s experiencing issues is having freezing water pipes at the district office-Freddie is working on them now… and the WHS boiler trying to keep up,” superintendent Brad Starnes said in an email last week. 

Following the first blackout, the district contacted the Wabaunsee County Health Department to offer up the buildings as temporary heating shelters if needed. “The US Army a year ago or so had worked with us in developing a plan on how to temporarily hook up an emergency electrical generator if shelters were needed,” Starnes said. 

Then on Monday night the district was contacted by the city of Alma and asked to not have any school or activities on Wednesday the 17th to help with the gas and energy situation. “Due to the ongoing severe weather and unprecedented cold temperatures as well as the extended forecast the City of Alma is asking all gas customers to attempt to conserve gas usage in any way possible,” City of Alma superintendent Michael Slobodnik said in a press release.

So far the district has used 4.6 of the 8 available snow days built into the 2020-21 calendar.

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