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TMCNet:  Dismissal learning experience for school

[November 02, 2012]

Dismissal learning experience for school

Nov 02, 2012 (Fergus Falls Daily Journal - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Fergus Falls Public Schools were dismissed about an hour early Wednesday due to a power outage, and school officials met Thursday to discuss ways the school could better handle a similar situation in the future.

"Every time we have a situation like that, we meet to debrief and see what we could have done better," said superintendent Jerry Ness.

Communication is crucial in a situation where many parents have to be notified, but without computers or phones, contacting parents can be difficult, he said.

The best thing parents can do to be prepared for these things is to sign up for the school's text, Twitter and email alerts. These alerts will provide updates on all cancellations, late starts or early outs, Ness said.

The power outage situation differed from more common weather related early outs because parents could not anticipate the event and neither could anyone at the school, he said.

"Everyone was caught off guard, and this is the emergency plan put to the test," said Ness. "With weather, everyone can tell something is coming. Even if it does come up quick, parents are prepared. This one was out of the blue." The power outage was caused by a small animal that crawled into the primary metering cabinet in the smokestack parking lot behind the Roosevelt Education Center, causing a flash fire. The school regained power about an hour later.

"Any time you do this kind of thing, you find out how good your drills are," said business manager Mark Masten. "It's always a learning experience. Whether it's a drill or real lift, it's always good to learn from it." Some other areas of concern addressed at Thursday's meeting included emergency light problems, sporadic dismissal times and computer server issues.

Some areas of the school were left completely in the dark because the emergency lights didn't work properly, and some students at KSS were released prior to the one hour early dismissal time.

"Proper supervision and proper lighting are both related to making sure everybody gets home safe," Ness said.

The school had some server issues that carried into Thursday, but all of the necessary day-to-day computer operations were available for students, teachers and faculty members. All servers are now fully up and running.

While power was restored at about the same time students were dismissed, Ness said it was still the right decision to call off the rest of the day.

___ (c)2012 the Fergus Falls Daily Journal (Fergus Falls, Minn.) Visit the Fergus Falls Daily Journal (Fergus Falls, Minn.) at www.fergusfallsjournal.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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