By Gary Lloyd
TRUSSVILLE — Snow and ice had not been thought of as part of student safety.
This is, after all, Alabama.
Tuesday’s inclement weather, however, changed the thinking. Students were stranded overnight at schools and good samaritans helped their neighbors on a day when the forecasted weather wasn’t correct.
Trussville City Schools Superintendent Pattie Neill said “most of the students” stranded in schools overnight live in the Magnolia Place-Hidden Trace area of Trussville on the southern end of the city. The Paine Elementary Campus is on the northern end of the city limits. They travel the longest distance to school every day.
The stranded students and faculty, along with parents not being able to get to their children, struck a chord with Neill. She’s talked at length about the need for two community elementary schools to ease overcrowding at the Paine schools, and provide safety for students and the community. But the safety had more to do tornadoes and keeping all students inside school walls, not in portables.
“It just really rang true with me. We had talked about student safety, that students would be safer in case of inclement weather,” Neill said. “That was always about bringing kids in out of portables and getting them into a tornado shelter. We’ve never talked about snow and ice. But today is the day to talk about it.”
Neill said two community elementary schools would have helped Tuesday, if parents were home and if students could walk home with parent permission. She said had that been the case, students would have walked with staff members, that students wouldn’t be turned loose to “walk randomly.”
“We could have gotten them safely home on foot with our eyes on them,” she said.
Neill said Tuesday’s weather speaks to the need for two community elementary schools and for the seven-millage property tax increase to pass. The vote is Feb. 25.
Seven additional mills in property taxes would cost Trussville residents $70 per year on homes appraised at $100,000, $140 per year on homes appraised at $200,000 and $210 per year on homes appraised at $300,000.
The plan is to renovate the city’s original high school in the Cahaba Project and to build a new school near the Magnolia Place subdivision. The schools will likely house 400 students each and could house as many as 500.
“It won’t happen unless the tax referendum passes,” Neill said.
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