Archive for Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Wintery blasts drive up costs to city

Two snow days remin in district’s bank

February 11, 2004

It's possible that Old Man Winter threw his final snowy punch last week.

At least Tonganoxie school and city officials hope so.

As eight inches of snow fell on the Tonganoxie area, city workers were busy clearing streets and school administrators were occupied with more school cancellations.

Although the snow kept the city maintenance vehicles out and about, last week's weather didn't take quite the bite out of the city's pocketbook that earlier storms had.

As of Feb. 2, the city had spent $6,825 to spread sand, gravel, chemicals and pay for hauling of products this winter. Last Thursday's snow, however, didn't require any chemicals or sand, so the only cost to the city was for labor.

"It still costs money when you figure manpower, but materials are the difference," assistant city administrator Kathy Bard said.

Bard said the city's sand, gravel and salt supply again has been depleted, but, if needed, the city can obtain more from its supplier -- Holliday Sand and Gravel in Kansas City, Kan.

While city crews were clearing streets, school children were celebrating time out of class. Last week, school was cancelled on Monday, Thursday and Friday. This year, the district has used six snow days.

The state allows for eight snow days. If the school district uses more, those hours must be made up later in the school year, likely in May.

"I hope spring is just around the corner," said Richard Erickson, superintendent.

If the school uses more than its allotted days, the district can extend the amount of time students attend classes each day or add more school days to the calendar. Erickson said he would confer with the school board and teachers before making any decisions -- if more days were necessary.

"We'd probably put out a survey and gather what plan would be best suited for our needs," Erickson said.

The school district also faces increased costs for snow and ice removal. The district contracts with Kelly Bingham to clean parking lots, while school maintenance workers take care of sidewalks.

Although Erickson didn't have costs from last week's storm, he said the ice storm the week before cost the school more than $1,100 to clean parking lots. Usually, the city spends between $600 and $1,200 to clear lots.

In 20 years as a superintendent, Erickson said he couldn't remember a year with more closings than this winter. And the superintendent is just ready for the schedule to get back to normal.

"School is a very positive routine," Erickson said. "Just the fact you're not in a normal routine can be disruptive."

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