The East St. Louis School District put out a news release Sunday so the news media could get the word out Younge Middle School would not open until August 30th... not the 16th like other schools in the district.
Copper thieves destroyed the air conditioning system at Younge Middle weeks ago.
Sunday seems a little late to get the word out. What if some families don't watch the news Sunday night? Wondering what would happen, my colleague and I decided to stand outside the front of the school around 7:30am. Sure enough I saw a kid with a backpack walk up, talk to a security guard and walk away from school. I approached him, but he didn't want to talk.
Minutes later a car pulled up. A mom and her daughter.
My conversation with the mom, Teresa Kimble started out like this"
Me: The school district announced yesterday there won't be school for a couple of weeks because the air conditioner is broken. You didn't hear about that?"
Kimble: "Noooo. Oh my God."
I had similar encounters with two other moms and two other students during the next 25 minutes. Unreal.
You could argue at a school with about 300 students, a dozen or so showing up not realizing school was closed isn't so bad. But even those who didn't show up today are not happy... either finding out on the news or from other reporters who sought out parents on Sunday to get their reaction. They were like the ones I got this morning. They didn't know.
The parents I talked to Monday morning didn't express anger as much as shock. However some that found out yesterday expressed their frustration driving by the school. One woman rolled down her window as she drove by and told me, "This is bull****." I assume it's okay to quote her on that.
I went by the school district office at 8:50am. Superintendent Theresa Saunders was not there and the security guard said there was no one he knew of around who could address this issue. As of 11am Monday, neither my phone call or message I left along with my business card has been returned.
The school board meets this evening. That could be interesting.
Mark Schnyder is a reporter at KMOV-TV. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.