May 4, 2011 Edition

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Schools impacted by flooding

Gretchen Hunt

As floodwaters rose in Lawrence County, school districts had to make decisions about bus routes, some of which led to school dismissals.

Both the Sloan-Hendrix School District in Imboden and the Imboden Area Charter School (IACS) missed days due to flooded roads.

Sloan-Hendrix Supt. Mitch Walton said they were forced to close early last Monday and remained closed on Tuesday, but reopened for the remainder of the week.

"We were out of school on Tuesday due to the Spring River flooding Highway 63, south of Imboden and between Imboden and Ravenden," he said. "On Wednesday, one bus route did not run due to hazardous road conditions."

Walton did report that attendance rates were actually above average for Wednesday through Friday despite the flooding.

"Monday morning, the Eleven Point and Spring rivers were flowing out of their banks again," he said. "A couple of bus routes were altered due to the creeks being flooded."

IACS has missed five days due to the flooding, but had not previously had to extend its year due to built-in snow days. Neither school has made a decision as to how to make up the missed days.

While other districts did not have to close, bus routes have been impacted throughout the county.

Highway closures were the hardest on Hoxie School, according to Tom Sears, director of transportation.

"When 63 was shut down, that had the biggest effect," he said. "The State Highway Department has been great to keep us informed."

Sears said Hoxie did run one bus route early on Friday afternoon to ensure that students living in the Portia, Clover Bend and Black Rock areas could get home.

For Hillcrest School District, county roads under water have been a major problem.

"Just about all of our bus routes are impacted," Supt. Greg Crabtree said. "We have approximately 30 low-water bridges scattered out over 340-square miles."

He said one route that goes into Sharp County was only run one day last week and is running late this week, as well.

"We have a wonderful group of experienced drivers who do not risk students' safety," he said.

Walnut Ridge High School Principal Charles Lee reported some issues with bus routes.

"We have had a couple of areas where buses are unable to go," he said. "But nothing as bad as some of the neighboring districts."

Lee said the other impact has been on individual students who either have been displaced because of the flooding or are unable to get to school because of flooded roads.

LCCS closes due to flooding

The Lawrence County Cooperative School in Portia has been closed since the floodwaters began to rise again on Friday, according to Director Lisa Davis.

"We are centrally located and provide services all throughout the county," she said. "We have van routes that are an hour and a half to almost two hours long."

She said because of the uncertainty of road and highway closures with the water rising and falling, closing was the only option. The school was also closed some earlier last week due to flooded roads.

LCCS is not a state-funded school but is a year-round provider receiving most of its funding through Medicaid.

"If the center does not provide any services, it does not get paid through the Medicaid program," she said. "We don't really get a chance to make up days being a 12-month program."

Davis said Haynes House, a group home with 10 residents, was able to remain open since a majority of the employees for that facility live in Portia.

None of the schools have reported water getting into any of their buildings.

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