Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Tornado Damaged Albertville Schools Forced to Reopen

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, April 29, 2010

It’s ridiculous you can’t do that in Alabama; but we’ll do what they tell us to do.”

– Ric Ayer, Albertville City Schools Superintendent

In shocking news, Albertville City Schools – devastated by a recent tornado – will be forced to reopen next week, and WILL NOT be able to obtain a student attendance waiver for the five days they were closed this week because of the damage.

Albertville City School Superintendent Ric Ayer said that Alabama state law neither allows for any process – however extraordinary circumstances may be – to waive the 180 day scholastic year, which is mandated by law. Superintendent Ayer said that he would prefer an extra week to reassure the safety of the schools and electricity restoration, added that, “We’re going to go ahead and do what we need to do to meet the state regulations. But it’s absolutely ridiculous there is no variance. Other states I’ve worked in, you’ve been able to apply for waivers. It’s ridiculous you can’t do that in Alabama; but we’ll do what they tell us to do. We won’t know how much more damage until we get the power on.”

The only possible process to change the law would be by legislative action. The Governor could call a special session to address this issue, but it’s unlikely he will act.

Alabama State School Superintendent Joe Morton and Alabama State School Board Member Mary Jane Caylor both indicated there is no possible avenue – even through Executive Order by the Governor – to waive the requirements. In a letter to residents of Marshall and DeKalb counties, Joe Morton wrote, “Initially, it seems so right for people to suggest that school be dismissed for a certain number of days, and that those days not have to be made up. However, no one in Alabama has the right to make such a ruling.” Mary Jane Caylor said, “I wish we could help, but we don’t have that authority. It is state law.

Superintendent Ayer said that up to 75% of all students and their families in the Albertville School System have been affected by the tornado, and that the Middle and High schools – with estimated damages exceeding $10,000,000 (10 Million) – will be very “extremely lenient” on attendance and tardiness policies, because families have lost transportation or otherwise have been incapacitated from attending. And because clean-up efforts are ongoing through the town’s main road (Alabama Hwy 75), bus routes will require re-routing, which also creates numerous problems.

Fast facts:

• Over 4,000 students displaced

• High School graduation is still planned for May 21 at Aggie Stadium, even though it sustained extensive damage.

• 20/27 “portable classrooms” (trailers) destroyed

• $10,500,000 estimated damage

• Elementary School students will be relocated because of extensive roadway damage – AL Hwy 75

• 7th & 8th Grade students will relocate to Albertville First Baptist Church

• Middle School lunchroom destroyed

• 1st – 2d Grades relocated to Big Spring Lake Kindergarten

• 3d – 6th Grades relocated to Evans Elementary School

• High School students will remain on campus in the Fine Arts Center and Cafeteria

• Boaz offered Albertville City Schools use of their facilities, but Superintendent Ayer refused saying, “I think our kids don’t really want to do that, even though they appreciate it. That’s a rival school.

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