By Aaron Besecker

beseckera@gnnewspaper.com

As local school districts struggle to reopen their doors to students, some school officials still don’t know what effect the weekend storm will have on the remainder of the school year.

City of Tonawanda Schools Assistant Superintendent Peter Michaelsen on Monday said school officials are researching the possibilities and will make a final decision soon.

The district built in five snow days into its 2006-2007 calendar, and has never had to use them all, he said.

Power was being restored rapidly throughout the district, and only Rearview Elementary was without electricity as of Monday afternoon.

The district’s request for assistance through Erie County has been approved, Michaelsen said.

“We are getting reinforcements as we speak,” he said.

He recommended parents of district students listen to radio station WNED-AM 970 for the most accurate status of the City of Tonawanda School District.

School officials are meeting daily with city leaders and department heads regarding road and sidewalk conditions in the city, Michaelsen said.

Once power is totally restored, officials will look at whether students can ride the bus or walk to school safely, he said.

Sweet Home Central School District Superintendent Geoffrey Hicks said half the district’s schools were still without power as of Monday afternoon.

Problems with the roof of Willow Ridge Elementary caused some flood damage to the school’s library, but it would be cleaned up by the time school reopens, Hicks said.

No estimate was made on how much damage was caused to books and furniture.

Some spoiled food in the district’s Central Kitchen was also discarded because of the power failure.

District officials also won’t know for several days whether the decision to close schools for the rest of the week will affect the school calendar, Hicks added.

“This is an unprecedented emergency,” Hicks said.

Royalton-Hartland Central School Superintendent Paul Bona called classes off Monday after Ridge Road Express reported to him that about one-third of roads districtwide, mainly south of Chestnut Ridge Road, still weren’t accessible. A considerable number of homes still didn’t have power late Sunday either, Bona said.

As of noon Monday, Ridge Road reported most roads cleared.

The storm gave the district an opportunity to try out its new SynerVoice system, an automated method for contacting parents by phone. The system was used Friday and Monday to alert homes to the school closings, although anybody who provided a portable-phone number may not have received the call if their power was out, Bona said.

Staff reporter Joyce Miles contributed to this report. Contact Aaron Besecker at 282-2311, ext. 2263.

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