Superintendent's column: Decision to delay school start was coordinated effort
BY ROBERT JAKLICH
Jan. 25, 2014 at 1:25 a.m.
Henry Ford once stated; "Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success." As superintendent of schools for the Victoria ISD, it is truly a privilege, joy and honor to serve this outstanding community with you. It has been said that there is a time to let things happen and a time to make things happen. The skill is knowing which action to choose.
On Friday, we made the decision to delay the start of the school day by two hours. There are several factors that go into the decision of whether to hold school at the regular start time, delay the start time or cancel school completely. Upon multiple visits with Jeb Lacey, emergency management coordinator for the Victoria Office of Emergency Management, we were able to determine that it would be in the best interest of our students, staff and families to begin the school day with a two-hour delay. The Victoria County Office of Emergency Management serves as an excellent clearing house for information from the National Weather Service, Texas Department of Transportation and local emergency services. We truly appreciate its outstanding work in supporting the citizens of Victoria County and its commitment to keep us safe and informed.
From our continuous conversations with the Office of Emergency Management, it was determined that traveling after sunrise would not pose any significant hazards. To make certain that VISD buses, staff and parents would not be traveling in the dark, we opted to delay the start of school to allow for greater levels of visibility and safety.
There were, however, three campuses that experienced power outages at some point during the early morning hours. The power at Aloe Elementary was restored well before the scheduled school start time, and the power at Vickers Elementary was restored within minutes of the start time. We also had reports from AEP that power would be restored in a timely manner at Smith Elementary, and within an hour of the scheduled start time, the electricity was back in service. We would like to extend our sincere appreciation to the individuals at AEP for their tremendous efforts in restoring the power and for allowing us to experience another great day in the VISD.
We also realize when the decision is made to change a school schedule, it causes ripple effects in the community as well. Parents who have to report to work are faced with child care decisions if there is no school or if school start times are delayed. Once this decision was determined, we immediately notified our parents, schools, staff and media.
We were committed to having staff present during the early morning hours to support the needs of our families. There was care available at every location for the students who were dropped off at the normal school start time. Our child nutrition staff offered an extended morning serving time for breakfast, so all students had the opportunity to eat a nutritious meal whether they arrived for the normal start time or during the two-hour delay. Our maintenance and custodial staff checked buildings Thursday evening and early Friday morning to make certain the heat was on and there were no pressing needs related to the weather.
In the VISD, we are truly thankful for the opportunity that we have each and every day to serve as a change agent and difference maker in the lives of our students. We realize that choice, not chance, determines our destiny, and we thank you for choosing to believe in us. We look forward to working together as we face the challenges that lie ahead, and we will never lose sight of the fact that together we can always achieve more.
Robert Jaklich is the superintendent for the Victoria Independent School District. Contact him at 361-788-9202 or through the VISD website, visd.com.