Schools brace for bigger blast of winter weather

By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Several classrooms at the new D'Iberville High School had no heat Thursday morning.

"Our boiler system was off, so I had to come over and check it," said Eddie Slade.

It's up to Slade to trouble shoot and restore the warmth as quickly as possible. As the heating and cooling technician for the Harrison County School District, Slade has been answering a lot of service calls this week.

"Pretty busy, pretty busy, we got a lot of schools," said Slade. "They like to see me walk through the door."

While the maintenance crew repaired heating units and insulated exposed pipes, the transportation team focused on its fleet of 187 buses. Freezing temperatures can cause the buses to stall.

"We spend a lot of time putting additives into our fuel to keep it from gelling up, so the buses don't run properly or crank at all. We spend a lot of time changing batteries and adding anti-freeze," said Larry Benefield, Maintenance and Transportation Director for the Harrison County School District.

As another precaution, Benefield and the school superintendent plan to drive along the major routes around 4:00 AM, to make sure that the roads and bridges are safe for the buses to cross later in the morning.

"The bridges are where we have to worry. When we have rain, they freeze over pretty quick. Cold weather comes, you're prepared. We get all our service vehicles ready to go because the kids are going to be standing out there whether the buses come or not. So we got to make sure it's coming," said Benefield.

The Harrison County School District transports about 8,500 students every day.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.