Friday, August 31, 2007

Classes continue despite power outage


When the power goes out for short periods of time, flashlights, candles and board games are often resurrected from closets and kitchen drawers to help pass the time.
But when Adams Elementary School Principal Marge Variano and Santa Barbara School District officials were informed early yesterday morning that the power at the school was out, portable restrooms were ordered, police were called to assist with traffic control and signs written in Spanish and English were placed on the road outside the school informing parents that school was on.

“Everybody really came on and did everything that needed to be done to make it work really smooth,” Variano said. “It’s a great school, everybody pulls together no matter what.”
The unusual and beautiful lightning show on Wednesday evening caused about 100 Southern California Edison Customers in Santa Barbara and Goleta to lose power, according to Jane Brown, Edison’s public affairs regional manager.
Brown said the power flicked back on at Adams Elementary just after 9 a.m., but about five customers on Foothill Road and Grove Avenue were expected to be without power until 9 last night.
Though the power outage at Adams Elementary didn’t cause much of a disturbance, it did showcase the quick response by the school and the district to ensure that students were safe and able to attend classes.
Barbara Keyani, a spokeswoman for the district, said swift, effective responses by district officials are a must during even the smallest glitch.
“When hundreds of students are due in, you have to take every step possible and work as quickly as possible to make sure their safety needs are met,” Keyani said. “Anytime there is an emergency you have to deal with whatever the specifics are and what’s in front of you.”
From the time Variano was informed of the lack of power just after 6 a.m. to the time students reported to school at about 8:15 a.m., arrangements had been made to switch from a hot lunch to a cold lunch format, restrooms were on the way and police were directing traffic.
Variano said the need for police stemmed from a traffic light that was out in front of the school.
Because several Edison trucks were parked in the bus unloading and loading lane, Variano said bus drivers were directed to drop off students on the opposite side of Los Positas Road. In order to get the kids across the street safely, police came and aided the on duty crossing guard.
Variano said the City of Santa Barbara’s Public Works Department provided a generator to operate the traffic light, while all of the school’s teachers were provided with Variano’s cell phone number because the school’s intercom system was down.
“Everybody really made it possible for it to be as smooth as it could possibly be,” Variano said.
According to Variano, the portable restrooms showed up just as the power turned back on and were not needed.
Throughout the morning, Keyani said she received calls from other district principals asking if there was anyway they could assist.
According to Keyani the gestures from other schools and the scene at Adams Elementary yesterday was typical for all schools in the elementary and secondary districts.
“That’s one thing I know I can always count on is that all the different schools will come together to help one another,” Keyani said. “They don’t bat an eye. That’s just part of what happens.”

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