Alonso asks residents to clear sidewalks so kids can get to school Tuesday

February 12, 2010|By John-John Williams IV | john-john.williams@baltsun.com

Baltimore schools CEO Andres Alonso wants residents to shovel sidewalks in their neighborhoods to provide safe passage for students traveling to school next week.

"It is absolutely necessary for the community to help out in terms of sidewalks throughout the city," Alonso said in an interview. "We have 83,000 kids, and they are not all going to be driven to school. You have 10-year-olds walking. Unless the sidewalks are done, we have a problem. It is not a problem that the city and the schools can solve. It is something that the community must do."

Alonso, who made the plea at Calverton Elementary/Middle School on Friday, has spent the past week driving around the city looking at the streets and sidewalks near the schools to assess the feasibility of asking teachers and students to venture back after what he calls a "historic" and "monumental" storm.

Alonso hopes to have schools open Tuesday; students are off Monday for the Presidents Day holiday. Employees will be working around the clock over the weekend and Monday to clear parking lots and sidewalks at the schools.

Alonso also challenged the city to clear streets to ensure that school buses could pick up students Tuesday.

"We have 15,000 kids that travel on yellow buses," he said. "In the next three days, we need to have safe passage for the buses."

Alonso, who drives an SUV with four-wheel drive, said he hasn't had much of a problem getting from school to school, but realizes that many students and teachers throughout the school system do not have access to those types of vehicles.

"If you can't get the teachers to come in, you can't open schools," Alonso said. "If you can't get the kids to come in, you can't open schools."

Alonso, like most superintendents throughout the state, said he would not open schools on Monday to make up the snow days.

"Lots of people have made plans," he said. "We would need to get the word out. I don't think that we had enough time to open on Monday."

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