Storm may cost students vacation days

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 9, 2002


Students in St. Charles, St. John the Baptist and St. James parishes had a holiday from classrooms and homework last week thanks to Tropical Storm Isidore. St. John and St. James schools were canceled on Wednesday and Thursday. Standing water and road closings kept St. Charles Parish schools closed an additional day.

On Thursday morning, bathing suit-clad youth turned flooded streets into neighborhood hotspots, wet football fields and swimming pools. Those not frolicking in the cold and murky waters were paddling down them in canoes or casting fishing lines from partially submerged driveways.

Isidore might have been a disaster for most homeowners, but for local children it was fun.

That day of recreation comes at a price. The early school “holiday” will mean less holiday time during Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter for most area students. Administrators and calendar committees in school systems throughout the River Parishes are planning to meet to schedule makeup days.

Updated school schedules are not likely to be released anytime this week. Most school systems are waiting to discuss makeup days until Hurricane Lili moves away from the area.

“If this storm was not right after Isidore, it would have been easy to schedule makeup days,” St. Charles Parish School System spokesperson Rochelle Touchard said. “With the potential for more missed days, we are going to hold off on making any further decisions.”

On Monday, storm advisories were issued for the coasts of Cuba and Lili was expected to make landfall by Monday night or early Tuesday morning. If it continues on its projected path, the storm could hit the shores of Louisiana by Wednesday or Thursday.

Touchard said it is too early to speculate on how or when missed days will be made up.

“Once we get through all this (Hurricane Lili), a lot of that can be determined,” she said.

All St. John the Baptist Parish public schools, except Garyville/Mt. Airy Magnet, resumed classes on Friday. Garyville/Mt. Airy students were out an additional day after a waterline break left the school without water Friday.

“It (the two-day break) will take some time off of holiday vacation – whether that be Easter or Thanksgiving or Christmas,” St. John Parish School System Superintendent Michael Coburn. “We were advised by Civil Defense to close (on Wednesday and Thursday). We thought it was a good idea and I think parents appreciated how quickly the decision was made.”

Some St. John Parish central office employees and 12-month employees worked a half-day on Wednesday. No financial ramifications are expected as a result of the two day school closure.

“There will be no cost to the school system,” Coburn said. “Teachers will have to make up those days. Twelve-month employees are still working.”

Not all students in St. James Parish will have to make up missed days. Most St. James Parish schools have additional days built into the calendar. Those days have not all been used yet.

“At the current time, all but four schools have enough minutes built into the calendars to cover the days missed,” Millie Matherne, administrative director of Human Relations, said. “If we miss any more, we are really going to have to make up time.”

The missed days did carry some cost to the school system, however. Matherne said St. James schools would sustain a financial loss related the free lunch and breakfast program. There is a federal government reimbursement for the free lunch and breakfast program. Because there was no lunch or breakfast served on those days, the reimbursement funds will probably be decreased.

No serious damage was reported at any of the schools in the three school systems as a result of Tropical Storm Isidore, according to a school system spokesperson. Some minor leaks were reported.