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Kreutzer Reviews District's Storm Response

Communications improvements due after the new year will help the district respond to future storms.

Three weeks after Superstorm Sandy hit, local roads were finally cleared of loose wires, allowing all Katonah Lewisboro buses to resume regular bus routes on Mon. Nov. 19.

The storm, its aftermath and the Nor'easter that blanketed the area two days after schools re-opened made for a challenging few weeks, Superintendent of Schools Paul Kreutzer said as he addressed the school community at a recent school board meeting.

"We saw the best in people but we saw a lot of anxiety; we are aware of some post-storm stress in our community," he said. "We will deal with the effects long-term." 

The storms also highlighted the district's urgent need for improving communications systems—which were compounded by the phones going out in the middle of the snowstorm on Nov. 7, when snowy roads and several accidents prevented several school children from getting home until the evening hours. Two children didn't get home until 10 p.m.

"In retrospect, having an early release would have kept our students and staff off the roads," Kreutzer said. "We were working off a professional weather service... we believed there would be no accumulation on paved roads [that early]. I feel very badly about that scenario."

With the phones out for about an hour and a half, communication was relayed to the director of transportation, who was able to radio bus drivers. Cell phones were also used to communicate with families, according to Michael Jumper, assistant superintendent for business.

Communications will improve this spring, said Kreutzer, when the new bus radio communications system—enabling GPS tracking and direct communication with drivers—approved in last year's budget is ready. The implementation has been stalled by delays in cell tower completion and the delivery of FCC codes, he added.

But even when the buses are fully hooked up, the district—located in a "beautiful, rural community"—needs a "modern response to storms," Kreutzer said.

"Don't be surprised if we include the future generation of power in the budget this season," he said. "We just can't go fully down. We need the ability to communicate."

Board member Janet Harckham recommended looking into available grants for solar-powered backup generators.

To read Kreutzer's letter to the community regarding recent storms, click here.

sol lejo November 21, 2012 at 10:02 AM
If I am reading this correctly, a nor'easter hits, the phones don't working, students are stuck on busses for hours and the superintendent feels badly about the whole scenario. I guess he felt so bad that he needed to keep that late afternoon massage appointment at Adam Broderick just to cope. With all that herbal tea and soft music your worries must melt away.
Fence November 21, 2012 at 03:14 PM
There should be an investigation as to Kreutzer's whereabouts. Perhaps he needs a GPS so the public can monitor his activities on the company dime?
Andrew L November 21, 2012 at 06:10 PM
A GPS would be great so we could tell when Nero (Kreutzer) was fiddling (getting a massage) while Rome burned (Lewisboro's children risked life and limb on buses to get home).
pauline schneider January 04, 2013 at 01:37 PM
I'm curious why Kreutzer cancelled my child's morning bus to her private school without alerting us. She waited nearly half an hour at the stop for the bus. I had to call transportation and be told they weren't going to send any private kids to school that day... I just read that his decision to cancel our buses may have been illegal, besides a huge inconvenience to our families and forcing our kids to miss school. Apparently he suspected there would be a bad enough storm later on so he has no excuses about not deciding to send students home early... Too bad he didn't collaboratively make his decisions with folks from the transportation dept who have been doing this and serving our community for decades.... He's not what the board promised us he would be.


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