My Turn: Possible solution for cold weather and schools - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

My Turn: Possible solution for cold weather and schools

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I really stirred things up last week when I questioned the decisions by many school districts to delay school openings by two hours because of cold temperatures.

We got a lot of responses.  About 20% agreed with my opinion…about half did not…and another 30% or so tried to turn it into a forum to bash Cape Fear Academy.

If I had a "do-over," I would have supported Cape Fear's decision in a different way.  I did not realize the extent of the jealousies toward that school and I should not have stirred it up.  I apologize for that. 

But I still stand by my opinion for the very same reasons I laid out a week ago.  I agree that some dissenters made some really good points…chief among them was that not every child is equipped with adequate cold weather gear.

But many people used the argument that the buses and the schools needed to be warmed and checked and that extra time was needed to accomplish that.  On the surface that would seem like a good point. 

However, there is an easy solution for that.  The few people responsible for that job need to get up two hours earlier and start their work in plenty of time to make it happen.  For me, that is inconveniencing a few for the good of the many students that shouldn't be losing valuable classroom hours.

That's my turn.  Now it's your turn.  To comment on this segment, or anything else, email me at yourturn@wect.com. Click here to see comments emailed by viewers on the initial "My Turn, Your Turn" piece: http://bit.ly/1a4nTij

 


 

Emailed comments from viewers:

Your absolutely right on this one!

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I totally agree with you, these kids just came off a long Christmas break had already had a half day and have two more days off this month. As a mother of four, that includes four different personalities and four different ways of learning to 3 of my kids the loss of hours is ok, it all comes naturally easy to them. But for one of the others he struggles and all of the hours they  get are very important to him getting through which is even more important to me because he is a twin and I'd hate for his twin sister to go on to the next grade and leaving him behind. We are from Va and the only time they missed is if it was snowing and two of my kids walked to school. These are kids very resilient our ancestors servived the heat and cold! Stop babying these kids this is why we end up with spoiled disrespectful killing brats! Smack their butts and send um to school, whats the worse that can happen? They might learn something?

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I have two school aged children that attend Bradley  Creek and a younger child that is not yet in school. My car was broken down that week and because we live a ten-15 minute walk from the school there are no buses available for our neighborhood. The delay was a blessing with the temperature so cold at 7:30 am that even with proper layers and mittens, hats, hoods and earmuffs the walk would've been freezing. We forget also that the bus drivers have families and health concerns of their own and with things such as blood thinner medications or children in the home it may have been more than a short term inconvenience to them. The pay of a bus driver is not high on the ladder and should they perhaps be a single parent I can see how early morning child care on short notice could also be an issue. Thank God for school delays!! The two hours are school work easily caught up during the course of a few days.

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I agree with u, they should stared two hrs early, to heat the buses and pick up the student on time. That's my opinion.

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Pullling in bus drivers, custodians, and mechanics early costs money.  A delayed start does not.  Given the tight budgets costs may have been a consideration as well as safety.  But student safety has to be the first prioty.

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On the subject of a school bus driver getting up two hours earlier to ensure that the bus is "warm and safe" shows a total lack of understanding of the job of a school bus driver.

 First, that implies that a school bus can idle for two hours to be warm for the students, it can not. The laws states that a school bus can not be allowed to idle for more than five minutes with the exception of when it's in traffic or being serviced by a mechanic and needs to be running.

It takes approximately 25-30 minutes for a Diesel engine to warm up, so each day that it's cold outside you have school bus drivers on the road in a freezing bus.

 Second, it takes only about 5 extra minutes to spray deicer on bus windows to melt the ice before you can drive safely. (It is also illegal to carry it on your bus, so you have to keep it in your personal vehicle). The normal pretrip school bus inspection takes absolutely no more time due to the cold weather, and trust me when I say none of us would want to prolong walking around a bus in the cold any more than we have to.

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I have lived in many places that have very frigid temps, such as Ohio, new jersey, and Minnesota .I know that they are much more prepared for cold weather and snow than Wilmington. Those places have snow plows, salt trucks, and emergency crews that are prepared. The roads are built and designed for the those purposes and the cars have antifreeze, oil, and tires made for cold. So as it looks like a blizzard outside these roads are made to withstand the weather. The homes and buildings are built the same with extra insulation, better windows and doors, and A/C units that are built for lower temps.

 It sounds good to open earlier but then you would have to: turn all heat on early even in the schools ,waste more gas by starting buses early, and Teachers would have to come in early to check on everything. They would have to make sure all the age old Heating units are working and many were not. This hurts an aready low budget for 2 hrs of school? It takes more time and money to heat a room at 5am than it does at 7am. The sun helps to warm buildings. Many of the heat unit at schools are cut off at night. Even calling an electrician at 5am is more expensive than 7am.

 Our area crash rate is already high enough in good weather!! New Hanover and surrounding counties have some of the highest crash rates in state. I saw a few patches of ice on my way to work and windshield was frozen over from moisture. Some idiots left their sprinklers on and the whole turn lane was an ice sheet. And I saw a few patches that were left as puddles. The county is responsible for anyone hurt or damaged on buses.  Students are required to go to these schools by the county so even if a parents wrecks on the way to dropping off students, the county could be liable.

 As for CF Academy I'm not sure if they are responsible or liable for it's student transportation? These types of schools are not mandatory and the school has less liability of students because they chose to attend and are not required to attend Cape Fear Acadamy. And many require liability wavers and clauses just in case. They have a bigger budget and nicer buildings that are probably built a lot better than most public schools. If they do have buses, my guess would be they are much nicer than New Hanover Counties. Half those don't run right normally. Plus Cape Fear sending you that message was most likely a show of it's "greatness" because I'm sure they have a way of contacting all students and teachers without the News.

 So I could definitely see a reason to be prepared just in case. It's a lot easier to pick up students late than get to school early and find problems. Then they would have to bus them home or try to notify students in 2 hours. Saves a lot of trouble, "Just in case".Even though it may or may not have been safer, The schools can say they tried. It's not just a safety issue but also an expense issue.

Quick info: My wife would have made sure she made up for our child's lessons missed. It's not just the School systems responsibility to teach the youth.

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I understand your concern about the children of New Hanover County getting all the class room time as possible and I would agree that these children  need all the school time they can get.

However ,  I  am appalled that you would even suggest that some people are jealous of Cape Fear Academy., this is one of the most hideous comments I have heard in a long time and i have been living in Wilmington for a very long time.  

You mention that too remedy the problem of the children getting to school on time, was for the  people who service the buses etc was for them to get up early and get the buses up and running. earlier.

 I hope you realize that in order for this too happen this idea would cost overtime and who is going too pay for this.  We cannot even get school supplies in most schools unless the poorly paid teachers and PTA association pay for these items.  

On the other hand Cape Fear Academy students are usually transported to their school by cars right to the front door.   I think you need to apologize for making  such a incendiary remark about people being jealous , this was not called for.

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I know you have probably heard all you want to hear on this subject, however, I have some thoughts on it.  I am in my 70's so do not have kids in school, so it does not affect me one way or another.

I am under the impression that Cape Fear Acadamy is a private school, and I am also under the impression that they do not pick up kids on school buses to bring to school.  I could be terribly wrong, but I was told they did not have school buses except for activity bus.  If that is the case then of course their kids do not have to stand at a bus stop in cold weather as someone takes them to school.  And if that is the case, school buses warming up in cold weather does not affect them at all. So, yes it would be easier for them to open school at the regular time.

Yes, it was cold and yes the kids missed some classes.  I have stood out many mornings in cold weather when I was young, sometimes up to 2 hours because for some reason or another our bus was very late. By time that bus got to my stop, everyone who got on at that stop had to stand up on the bus every single day, all the way to school because the bus was so crowded. Of course that was in the 1950's. Things have changed.  My kids stood in the cold also on cold morning waiting on a school bus.  I never ever took my kids to school or picked them up from school.

I do agree with you on the people who drive the buses and get them ready of a morning, should get up earlier if it takes longer to get that bus moving.   Unless the bus breaks down or something else happens then the bus should be on time and kids and parents should be able to depend on the bus to be there at a certain time every morning.  It can be done.  It just takes the responsible persons' initiative to get it done.

I also believe the school board should arrange to have bus shelters at the bus stops.  It would sure help in inclement weather.

I have not heard it mentioned wheather Cape Fear Acadamy has school buses or not picking up and bringing the kids to school. That to me would make a difference in the way they feel.  I am not bashing them or anyone.  I just think if they don't have buses to transport their kids to school, then it is so unfair to make a big thing out of them opening on time.

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I work for Pender County Schools and am in total agreement with their decision to delay for 2 hours.  You would not believe how many kids have to get themselves ready for school and would not have been responsible/knowledgeable enough to dress appropriately for that bitter cold.  I believe their safety is much more important than 4 hours missed in school.   To have to wait for the bus at 6 am in that weather would have been awful.

  I am so proud of Pender County Schools for putting child safety over test scores!!!!!!  

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It is  outrageous the way Brunswick Electric, for 2-months  charged their customers well over a $100.00 for Dec.2013 and Jan 2014. I did not have any Xmas decorations. They had already plan this well in advance. I am a senior on Social Security,for me to have to pay for services that were not mine is a Hardship. It would be wonderful if the meter readers would consider come to folks home and actually read the meter.

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I'm with you!  The safety of our students should be our first priority.  Forget about anything else.

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Absolutely agree with you.  This is teaching children and adults not to adapt or be resilient in other than normal times.    If no coats, then layer those tee shirts and wear a scarf.  And  demonstrating lower priority for education.  We need more resilience in hard times, like past generations. 

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I think what stirred up such mean-spirited debate was your statement concerning how proud you were that Cape Fear Academy was not delaying the start of school and how they were setting the standard for "excellence."  I haven't had an opportunity to read all of the comments you received but did want to express my opinion, especially with the upcoming cold weather.  

I wholeheartedly support the school administration's decision to delay the start of school because of the frigid temperatures.  From what I understand, Cape Fear Academy's students do not ride school buses. I would also hazard a guess that most, if not all, of their students have adequate clothing for cold weather.   

Many of the children in our public school system rely on bus transportation.  These buses do not go door to door to pick up each child.  There are designated stops where the children have to wait for the bus to arrive.  The buses do not always come at the exact same time each day so the children must wait for it. Having children (many, of whom, may not have adequate clothing) wait outside in frigid temperatures is dangerous.  

Perhaps those that think there should be no school delays when it's 17 degrees at 7 in the morning should go outside without a coat and stand for 15 minutes.

Applauding Cape Fear Academy's decision to open on time and praising them for setting "the standard for excellence" while criticizing that of the public school system's was, in "my" opinion certainly not the best way to express "your" opinion.  

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