By TRAVIS MORSE email@example.com
---- — MT. VERNON — Classes were canceled at District 80 schools Thursday due to a power outage that affected Casey Middle School for much of the day.
Superintendent Mike Green said he decided to use an emergency day for the district because it would have been unsafe to hold classes at Casey without power.
Typically, when classes can’t be held at one district building, they are canceled for the entire district, Green said.
“With Casey having no electricity and no heat, we couldn’t have school,” Green said. “(It’s about) the safety of students and the employees. How much school can you really have when it’s that cold?”
The outage occurred after a power line fell into another line at 4:50 a.m. Thursday at 1700 Casey Ave. for an unknown reason.
This, in turn, caused one of the lines to catch fire and burn the utility pole, said Marcelyn Love, a spokesperson for Ameren Illinois. The transformer attached to the pole may also have been damaged.
Ameren crews were working throughout the day Thursday to replace the pole involved and re-string the lines, Love said.
“We’re making every effort to get it resolved as quickly as possible,” Love said Thursday afternoon.
Love said the outage impacted 1,054 customers. All but 12 of those customers had their power restored by 6:30 a.m. Thursday. All but three were restored by 2:30 p.m.
The remaining customers were expected to have power again by early evening.
Green said he received an initial call at 5:30 a.m. Thursday about the J.L. Buford Intermediate Education Center having no
power. He was then contacted at 5:45 a.m. about Casey being out as well.
Power was restored at Buford shortly after 6 a.m., but Casey was still without electricity.
“We didn’t know if Buford would go out again,” Green said.
It is unclear why the Buford facility lost power and if it was related to the Casey outage. The Casey and Buford sites are located about 16 blocks apart, Green said.
Green said he expected to hear back about whether Casey’s power had been restored by early evening Thursday.
With Thursday’s cancellation, District 80 has now used seven of its 10 emergency days for the school year. The days will have to be made up, likely at the end of the year.
Emergency days are taken when classes cannot be held because of a safety risk to students. Included under this category are snow or other weather events, power outages, plumbing malfunctions and more, Green said.
The District 80 Board of Education will discuss the school calendar at its upcoming board retreat on Jan. 17 and 18.
Also on Thursday, Woodlawn Grade School and Woodlawn Community High School were closed due, in part, to frozen pipes bursting and causing water leakage in certain rooms. The road conditions and heating issues also contributed to the schools being closed that day, said Superintendent David Larkin.
A complete story on the Woodlawn closures will appear in Saturday’s Register-News.