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Power outages hit 20 campuses during first snowstorm of the school year

School buses in a school bus yard in winter with snow.
School buses in a school bus yard in winter with snow.

The first large snowstorm of the school year caused power outages Monday at about 20 schools in Chicago, including one elementary school where students had to be moved to another building.

While district officials thanked city officials and Com Ed for their efforts in making sure that most of the district’s schools were running — and warm — Monday morning, union officials blamed the power outages on what they argued is the chronic neglect of school buildings.

“Students in 20 schools were robbed today of warmth and educational stability – because the mayor’s appointees who run our schools simply don’t care about their learning conditions,” said union President Jesse Sharkey in a statement, noting that parents and educators regularly attended Board of Education meetings to plead for facilities repair in their schools.

Chicago schools struggle with billions of dollars in deferred maintenance, and CPS’ $189 million capital budget for the fiscal year that began July 1 only addressed 6 percent of the estimated $3.4 billion need.

Despite the cold, school remained in session at all 513 district-run Chicago Public Schools campuses.

While some school buildings lost power, they were still able to accomodate students either in separate buildings on campus or, in the case of Shields Elementary in Brighton Park, at a nearby middle school.

“Nearly all of the approximately 20 schools that experienced some power loss were prepared to safely support students in their school buildings today,” the Chicago Public Schools statement said.

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