Hurricane will delay school start in area

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BENNINGTON -- Local students will get an extra day of summer vacation after local school officials decided to alter the beginning of the school year Friday because of possible flooding and power outages stemming from Hurricane Irene.

Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union Superintendent Catherine McClure said all schools in the supervisory union will be closed Monday. It was supposed to be the first day of work for teachers, with a conference featuring presenters from across the state on health and wellness and bullying.

"Weather is unpredictable and we have to respond as best we can," McClure said. "This is a huge difficulty in scheduling ... because we have a number of presenters coming in for the teachers."

Hurricane Irene is expected to impact the state beginning on Sunday. Heavy rains and powerful winds are expected to cause some flooding and power outages.

Kathy Buck, director of special education services for the SVSU, said district officials held an emergency meeting Friday morning to determine how to respond. The conference has been rescheduled for Sept. 6, what was supposed to be the first day back for students, she said.

Students will now have their first day of school on Sept. 7.

Buck said some of the schools are located in flood plains, including the high school. And the middle school is the designated emergency shelter space for the area.

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"We feel like we need to have the schools available in case of emergency on Monday," Buck said. "We're anticipating that everything is going to be all right by Tuesday."

Buck said teachers in the district are being alerted by the central office about the scheduling change.

Local elementary schools had planned first day celebrations and barbecues for parents, McClure said. Those will be rescheduled for the next day in most cases, she said. Parents should wait for confirmation from each school's principal for specific times and dates, she said.

McClure said she is hopeful local employers will allow parents to adjust time off to attend first day activities.

"I understand parents have arranged to take days off from work," she said. "I'm hoping employers will help them in changing that day to Sept. 7."

Teachers will be expected to report for regular in-service days and attend scheduled workshops starting Tuesday, McClure said.

Contact Neal P. Goswami at ngoswami@benningtonbanner.com


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