School closings from ice storm leave administrators tacking on days
WORTHINGTON -- John Landgaard has seen ice and snow like last week's before.
"In 1996, we were living in northwest Minnesota when the ice storm came through," said the District 518 Superintendent Wednesday morning. "It was a very similar type of situation. The roads were so full of ice they were rutted up like a gravel road. They were that tough to drive on, which lasted until it warmed up and they could peel it off.
"We were out of power for four days in town," Landgaard continued. "There were rural residents that were out of power for two to three weeks. I've been a part of this once before."
The ice storm that pummeled southwest Minnesota, northwest Iowa and south east South Dakota last week was very similar to the storm years ago.
"We're extremely fortunate in this community to have the system that's planned and have backup generators," Landgaard said. "Because when I was in northwest Minnesota, the National Guard actually showed up, and two days after the power outage we had big generators from the National Guard running our school building to keep enough heat so we didn't lose our heating system."
District 518, like everyone else in town, was subject to the rolling blackouts.
"Our community is extremely fortunate that we could live under the rolling blackouts," Landgaard said. "Some people might think it's an inconvenience and harsh, but they are warm and safe. Trees will grow back."
Worthington did not have school three days last week and, on Tuesday, the school board voted on how to make up those days.
"We're going to go to school all day on Friday, May 17, and all day on Monday, May 20, and a half day on Tuesday, May 21," Landgaard said.
The original District 518 calendar has early dismissal on May 17. However, with graduation on May 17, seniors will not be required to return to school.
There will be a teacher in-service day on May 22 and a teacher work day on May 23.
Of the three days missed, two full days will be made up by students.
"We have this new initiative with iPads, and we have to look at that as an opportunity to do some training time," Landgaard said. "We always struggle with time to do training and spend working on curriculum. It's kind of an advantageous move for us to do some training for staff."
District 518 had three late starts prior to last week's storm, but hadn't missed any school days completely. According to Landgaard, missing days this late in the year is not common.
"For Worthington, I can't say for sure, but it probably is one of the later dates," he said. "Usually, you get these funny storms in March, not April. This is a little later than normal, and actually even a little later than what I would say I've seen in other places."
Besides missing school days, the school didn't sustain any damage.
"Other than tree damage and a little fence damage here and there, we really didn't have any major facility problems," Landgaard said. "Our biggest thing now is cleanup."
Other schools in the area are also adding extra days to the end of the year.
"We were supposed to get out on May 24, so we're just going to have school on the 28th, 29th and 30th to make up for those three days," Fulda High School Principal Gregg Slaathaug said. "The teachers have the 31st, and we're all out before June. So we're OK."
Edgerton Public also missed three days and will add the days at the end of the year. According to Principal Brian Gilbertson, the last day of school will be May 17 for seniors and May 22 for the underclassmen.
Southwest Christian in Edgerton also missed three days, but is still in discussion about how to make up the days.
Hills-Beaver Creek missed three days last week, but one of those three days had been built in as a snow day.
"We are making up two days," H-BC Superintendent Todd Holthaus said. "We will now have full days of school on Thursday, May 16, and Friday, May 17. Our staff will come back to finish things up on Monday, May 20. That's the proposal. Our board has to act on it next Monday night."
Adrian also missed three days last week as the community struggled with power issues.
"We're just going to tack them on to the end of our calendar," Adrian Superintendent Roger Graff said. "We'd normally be getting out on the 16th of May, but that's going to push us back to the 21st."
In Iowa, Harris-Lake Park missed only Thursday and will make it up at the end of the year. The last day of school will now be May 21.
"It didn't change over as rapidly here to ice," H-LP Superintendent Dennis Peters said. "I've been to Worthington, and it's amazing that it's just a few miles away."
Daily Globe Community Content Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.