By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer
Muleshoe school did the normal checks for inclement weather, and reasoned Thursday morning would be just rain, and not enough to cancel school.
That was before the wind and snow picked up, and the power went out.
Kids dropped off at the district’s four campuses soon had to be sent home.
District Superintendent Gene Sheets was in Austin for a state superintendents’ meeting. He was in touch with his assistant superintendent and transportation director between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m.
“They said, ‘It’s raining, but it’s fine,’” Sheets said. “We decided to have school because we hoped it would hit north.”
It did not head north. The relentless wind and snow soon turned the city into a web of icy, snow-covered roads.
Evelynn Orozco said she called a school information phone number to see if classes were canceled. The recorded message only gave information about upcoming basketball games. Area television stations said nothing of a closure either.
“Nothing said Muleshoe school was canceled and it kind of freaked me out because it was ugly outside,” said Orozco, who took her two sons at Deshazo Elementary while her husband dropped off a nephew at Dillman Elementary.
When school was supposed to be starting, power was out at the elementary schools and Watson Junior High — Muleshoe High still had power.
Tiffany Boehning, with one child each enrolled at Dillman, Deshazo and Watson, said kids were being sent to the cafeteria while the power was out.
“I wasn’t concerned about the safety of the children,” Boehning said, “but if the power was out, would they be able to keep them busy?”
Sheets said Xcel Energy gave the district an estimate of four hours for the outage. The call was made to cancel the rest of the school day.
Soon teachers and administrators were calling parents back to notify them of the switch — Sheets even called parents from his cell phone while out of town.
Buses started taking students back home from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Orozco would have preferred school canceled in the first place, and she’s normally more than happy with the school’s communication with parents.
“I think it’s a horrible thing the way they did it this time,” Orozco said. “They’re usually good about letting us know ahead of time.”
Boehning, although she admitted her husband vehemently disagrees with her, felt the school made the right initial decision, and instruction would have been fine without the unforeseen power problems.
“It was simply raining (at 6 a.m.),” Boehning said. “Somehow between 7:40 to 8:15, everything had turned to a sheet of ice.”