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Tea Students' Cold Weather Routine

December 11, 2013, 4:55 PM by Perry Groten

Tea Students' Cold Weather Routine

The superintendent of the Tea Area District says she'll sit down with the school board to try and come up with another proposal to add more classrooms to increasingly crowded schools. A $10.5-million bond issue to build a new grade school and add onto the primary school came just 14 votes shy of the 60-percent needed to pass in Tuesday's citywide vote. The defeat means more cold days ahead for many Tea grade schoolers.

The Tea school district was hoping this would be the last winter that students would have to attend classes these temporary wooden buildings that don't even have running water. But Tuesday's results mean the daily cold-weather routine will go on indefinitely.

A dozen times a day, Tea first and second graders bundle up to file outside to the six wooden classrooms the district quaintly refers to as "cottages."

"It is in and out continually throughout the day," Tea Area School Superintendent Jennifer Lowery said.

The staff makes sure the crowd of coats and caps moves briskly. 

"It is a lot like a traffic cop, like an airport worker directing all the time," administrative assistant Mari Shaull said.

The students can't spend all their time inside the classroom cottages. Lunch and bathroom breaks beckon. So it's back outside again and into the main building.

"I feel terrible every single day when I know that it's below-zero, we don't even allow children to play on the playground because it's so cold, but yet we are forced to have walking in and out," Lowery said.

The students have their own responsibilities in this daily parade. Some are assigned to be door holders. Others serve as line leaders and food carriers. In sub-zero weather, every meal is a cold lunch.

"They practice those things so that they're as efficient as possible," Lowery said.

The goal is to bring the kids from the outside back to the inside and from the inside back to the outside again as quickly and safely as possible.

"You want to keep them in line so they're not pushing or falling or any of those things," Lowery said.

Lowery says the constant coming and going also cuts into instructional time: students can't learn when they're always on the move.

Lowery says she's encouraged that Tuesday's bond vote came so close to the 60-percent threshold required for passage.  She says it's important to get input from the community to come up with a compromise that can ensure passage the next time it comes up to a vote.

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