Many Vermont schools delayed or closed by storm
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | September 01,2011
Albert J. Marro / Staff Photo
Peter Cassarino gets a kiss goodbye from his mother, Elise Cassarino, on Wednesday morning. The pair was at Rutland Middle School for the first day of school.
BENNINGTON — The Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union’s schools are among about 90 schools that have either been delayed or will be delayed as the state’s school districts recover from the damage caused by Sunday’s storm.
Catherine McClure, superintendent of the supervisory union, said all schools would be open on Sept. 12. Last week, the first day of school was delayed from Sept. 6 to 7, but the new delay was based largely on concerns about the water supply in Bennington.
“Even though we’re getting better news each day on the repairs for the water main and the bridges, it’s not enough to know for sure. It’s everybody’s hope that the water main will be corrected with a temporary repair as of Saturday night or earlier … (but) if it doesn’t work on Saturday, I could not wait until then to tell parents that there would not be school on Tuesday. It would be too short notice,” McClure said.
The supervisory union also has schools in North Bennington, Pownal, Shaftsbury and Woodford, but most of its schools, including the high and middle schools that serve students from all towns, are in Bennington.
A bridge on Park Street, on the same street as Mount Anthony Union High School, has been closed since Sunday although Stuart Hurd, Bennington’s town manager, said it may reopen on Wednesday.
Jill Remick, a spokeswoman for the Vermont Department of Education, has put together a list of schools, posted on the department’s website, that closed either temporarily or will be closed. For instance, schools in the Rutland Northeast and Windham Southwest supervisory unions have delayed their opening days until Sept. 6.
Remick said the list was assembled from responses received by the education department to a question about school damages and delays. She said parents should check with their local schools to get more definitive information and because there might be specific details, like some grades starting on one date while others start on a different date, not reflected in the list.
According to Remick, the storm damage has caused some “pretty unprecedented” changes to the school year throughout the state.
“This has really brought a lot of Vermont’s educational system to a halt,” she said.
Like the schools in the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union, many Vermont schools are expecting delays not because of damage to the school facilities but because of such concerns as which roads and bridges will be open, Remick said.
However, some schools were damaged like those in Moretown and South Royalton. Remick said there were about a half-dozen schools, including those in Bethel and Rochester, whose administrators couldn’t even estimate when the schools would open.
Remick said Armando Villaseca, commissioner of education, was planning to issue a letter next week with guidance on seeking a variance for the required 175 school days in a year, based on the issues faced by many Vermont schools already.