08 - 23 - 2013 Skeptical parents keep school children home from safety worries
REEDSVILLE - While students throughout Mifflin County boarded buses en route the first day of school, two of Kim Rowe's children changed into their first-day outfits with another day at home ahead of them. "I'm afraid for the safety of my children" Rowe, of Yeagertown, said. "I can't, with a clear conscience, send my children (to school)." Her sentiments were shared by a number of parents throughout the district who chose to keep their kids home on the first day of school after learning of unfinished and - in their opinion - unsafe construction at Indian Valley Elementary and Intermediate School in Reedsville. Parents who attended a walk-through event Wednesday night turned to Facebook to post pictures of wires hanging from ceilings, closed stairways and dust covering cafeteria counters at the school. Despite ongoing renovation at the school, the doors opened to students for the first time as planned on Thursday morning. IVEIS Principal Michael LaMarca said contractors worked through the night to put the finishing touches on areas that would be immediately utilized by students and properly barricade areas that were not ready for occupancy. At this point in time, he said, construction is progressing on schedule except for one restroom in the long hallway that was taking longer than expected. That area is closed to students and there are other restrooms available for use. Overall, both parents and administration said safety was their primary concern. Whether regularly scheduled or in response to public outcry, changes are being made quickly and contractors were again expected to be working through the night on Thursday. School renovations are a catch-22 because communities want to see better schools, but administration only has about three months of the year to work without students present. Everyone involved is trying to be safe for the children and the school should see significant progress in the coming weeks.