This week our school district again has confronted a natural disaster with the tornadoes that came through the area on Monday. Many families lost their homes and two residents of Jefferson County were killed. One of those was Christi Heichelbech who lived in Clay and was a junior at JCIB. Everyone with whom I have spoken who knew or taught Christi all have said what a wonderful student and outstanding person she was; staff and students at Shades Valley and JCIB have rallied around the Heichelbech family to show their care and concern. The other person who was tragically killed in the Oak Grove area has a grandchild who attends Bryan Elementary School. I know that staff and students at Bryan are being of great help to this family. Our continuing thoughts and prayers are with these families. In so many ways, all of you are reaching out to those who were harmed by Monday’s devastation.
The families of many students we serve had their homes either severely damaged or completely destroyed. Steve Laney has shared that at Clay-Chalkville High School as of today there are 43 students known to have had their families’ homes damaged and nine students who had their homes destroyed. Such tragic situations have impacted students’ families and our employees’ families throughout the county. Center Point Elementary School was severely damaged with a large portion of the school being destroyed by the storm. Administrators at the Center Point schools along with staff from Support Services, Transportation, CNP, IT, and here at the central office are working to relocate the 600+ students at Center Point Elementary School to the campuses of Erwin Elementary and Middle Schools. A meeting with all faculty and staff members in the Center Point schools will be held tomorrow morning to prepare for these transitions to begin taking place.
We want to help you, your students, and your staffs in whatever way is needed. If you know of a displaced student, please be in touch with Linda Hurt, our Homeless Liaison, at 379-2155 who can be of tremendous assistance in helping identify ways we can help that student and services we may provide. Posted on our website is a description of such services available to help displaced students. Sally Price and our Schools Foundation again have in place a Relief Fund that can provide assistance in a variety of ways. Sally’s telephone number is 379-2216.
Last year the Board passed an Unavoidable and Hardship Leave policy that will provide up to twenty (20) days leave with pay for employees upon the superintendent’s approval if they are unable to report to work “. . .because of their displacement or the imposition of extraordinary personal burdens or hardships caused by natural disasters,. . .” Employees who must be away to take care of homes damaged or destroyed or attend to family members harmed by the tornadoes may take leave under this policy. Attached are copies of that policy and the simplified form an employee will complete and return to us. The Finance Department shortly will be sending out additional information regarding the submitting of a completed leave request form. If you have a staff member having to confront such tornado-related matters as the above, please let them know of this being available to them.
The State Legislature passed and the Governor signed last year Senate Bill 271. Upon the Governor declaring a State of Emergency following such a natural disaster as this week’s tornadoes, it allows for an impacted school district to apply “. . .for relief in fulfilling the local school calendar with respect to student days or employee days, or both with no loss of income to employees.” Just as we did following last April 27th’s devastating storms, we will submit a request to the State Superintendent asking that our school district be provided relief and not have to make up any of the days that have been lost due to the tornadoes.
I appreciate all that you are doing during these difficult times and we stand ready to be of help to you, your students, and your staff. Thank you all.
Dr. Phil Hammonds