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updated: 9/19/2013 2:24 PM

Power outages disrupt classes at two Lombard schools

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Power outages at two schools in Lombard Elementary District 44 interrupted classes Thursday morning and caused large numbers of parents to keep their children home.

Power went out at 11 p.m. Wednesday at Glenn Westlake Middle School and Manor Hill Elementary, two facilities serving nearly 1,300 students, officials said. Power was not restored until 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

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Superintendent James Blanche said he first was notified of the outages in a phone call around midnight. In a subsequent call early Thursday morning he said he received assurances from ComEd that power would be up and running by 7:30 a.m. at the latest.

When power had not returned by 7 a.m., Blanche said it was too late to cancel school, so a notification was sent to parents through an instant alert system that if they chose to keep their children home it would not count against attendance.

Roughly half the students showed up for classes at Glenn Westlake, he said, and only about one-quarter of the students at Manor Hill, which starts school 25 minutes later. Blanche said a flashlight is in place in each classroom for emergency situations, with shortwave radio in both buildings for communication.

Blanche said a letter explaining the situation will be sent home with students on Friday.

He praised the work of his staff in adjusting to the unpredictable situation and said he received just six calls from parents who were upset with the district's handling of the outage.

"If we could have predicted this, if we had any idea that we would have been without power past 8 or 9 a.m., we would have canceled school. We didn't have that option," Blanche said. "It was a little bit of a mess for a while, but we got through the day."

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