Where kids can go if school's delayed again
Rocked by continuing criticism of its school closure policies, the Portland school board late last night announced new procedures for this morning's call on whether and when the city's public schools will open. Particularly if school openings are delayed, as they were in yesterday's severe winter storm, additional resources will be available for parents whose schedules are disrupted.
"We know it's hard for folks to understand why we're closing their schools when it's just cold and rainy," explained district spokesman Harriet Grimm. "But we have some students who have to travel over the summit of Burnside Street to get to school. Also, we keep the school buses in a garage in Government Camp."
To mollify upset parents, Grimm announced that if school openings are delayed by two hours or more, the school district will hold a student festival in the parking lot outside its headquarters in the Blanchard Education Service Center, near the Rose Quarter. The theme of the morning will be "Celebrating Diversity in Portland's Weather." The event will run from 8:15 a.m. until 15 minutes before schools are scheduled to open -- typically 10:30 a.m. in a delay situation.
Featured at the event will be a free Head Start breakfast, music by the Fernwood Middle School orchestra, a safety demonstration sponsored by Morton Rock Salt, and a petting zoo. At 9:45, City Commissioner Sam Adams is slated to address the assembled youngsters on "Cool Ways to Get Yourself on Television," after which he will have himself tasered by Multnomah County Sheriff Bernie Giusto. Representatives of Remax Equity Group realtors will also be available to pre-sell sustainable, affordable condominium units soon to be available at the site of the old Washington High School.
Grimm noted that a large number of the complaints about yesterday's closures and delays came from parents of children who attend area private schools. Many, if not most, local private schools follow the Portland public schools' decisions when it comes to closures. "But unfortunately, if we hold the festival in the morning, our resources are limited. Only Portland public school students will be admitted," she said.
However, students of Catholic schools will have their own event at which to while away the hours if the start of the school day is delayed. Bud Bunce, spokesman for the archdiocese of Portland, said that the Catholic schools gathering will be outside the federal bankruptcy court, 1001 SW Fifth Avenue. Although details were not available at press time, the parochial schools were said to be working on a program about the importance of keeping some things secret.
Stay tuned to bojack.org Storm Center 9000 all night and day for continuing, comprehensive team coverage of the snow mixed with rain. We look out the window -- so that you don't have to.