3 schools damaged by storm still closed

Odenton elementary to reopen today after heating system failure

February 25, 2003|By Ryan Davis | Ryan Davis,SUN STAFF

Three storm-damaged Anne Arundel County schools that were closed yesterday - Severn River and Magothy River middle schools in Arnold and Marley Elementary School in Glen Burnie - will remain shut for at least another day, school officials said.

By tomorrow, officials hope to reopen the building that houses Severn River and Magothy River middle schools, but they will not be certain of its status until this afternoon. The roof collapsed Saturday, and building inspectors must examine it before pupils can return, school spokeswoman Jane Beckett-Donohue said.

At Marley Elementary, several classrooms sustained snowstorm-related water damage, Beckett-Donohue said.

Waugh Chapel Elementary School in Odenton - which sent home all of its approximately 375 pupils at 11 a.m. yesterday because the school's heating system was broken - was expected to reopen this morning. The heat was fixed by the time the children were dismissed, but the temperature in the building remained at about 50 degrees, said Principal Joyce Sims.

Teachers, secretaries and administrators scrambled to call as many parents as possible before sending the pupils home. Every elementary pupil is required to file an emergency dismissal plan with their school.

Until they went home, the children attended classes wearing coats and gloves.

For most students throughout the area, yesterday marked the first day back to school after a week off because of the biggest snowstorm in the area on record.

During the weekend, county school facilities workers inspected all 77 elementary schools, 19 middle schools and 12 high schools, as well as all other learning facilities.

The worst damage was at 29-year-old Severn River Middle School, where the roof caved in on the administrative office area, Beckett-Donohue said.

"It was just one heck of a mess," she said. A damage estimate was not available yesterday.

No damage occurred at Magothy River Middle School, but because the schools are joined, both were closed. Together, they hold about 1,700 pupils.

It remained unclear whether pupils at the schools closed yesterday and today would make up the time they miss this week, Beckett-Donohue said.

"I don't know what we're going to do," she said. "I guess we'll worry about that after the fact. We haven't found out when we're going to get back in, so we don't know what we're dealing with."

In addition to class time that might be rescheduled at the four schools, all Anne Arundel public schools will need to make up four days missed because of snow closures unless the State Board of Education waives the requirement. If the days had to be made up, school officials say it would be done by adding days at the end of the year, eliminating vacation days, or a combination of both.

Updated information about school closings is available at the school system's Web site: www.aacps.org.

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