By Johnny Jackson
North Clayton High School students were dismissed early at 11:30 Tuesday morning due to a power outage. Principal Derrick Manning said the dismissal could not have come sooner, because school without air conditioning is not fun.
"We could not hold students in that extreme amount of discomfort for that length of time," Manning said, commenting on the lack of air conditioning in the humid school.
"The entire school, with the exception of seven modular units, was without air conditioning," said Charles White, Clayton County Schools spokesman. "Power was actually lost to about 40 percent of the school."
The cafeteria manager, Ruthie Smith, noticed and reported the outage early Tuesday morning, Manning said. "Evidently, it happened very early or sometime during the night."
At about 9:20 a.m., Manning said, school district officials were alerted by Georgia Power crews that outage repairs could take several hours. Then, he said they decided to close the North Clayton High School campus for the rest of the day.
The outage lasted until about 2 p.m., when Georgia Power crews were able to repair shorted lines that caused the outage.
Georgia Power spokeswoman Konswello Monroe said primary electrical cables feeding from a transformer to the school went bad, possibly by lightning.
There was also suggestion that the cable sheathing deteriorated, exposing the power lines to underground moisture. Georgia Power crews excavated and replaced the faulty cable located beneath a sidewalk near the school gymnasium. Reportedly, the school was the only property affected by the power outage.
Manning said most students were transported home as they are usually transported after a normal school day.
"It's very rare that this occurs - that power outages are the result of power lines," said Ronnie Watts, the coordinating supervisor for facilities construction for Clayton County Schools.
Watts said that whenever possible contractors consider feeding schools from two different power sources. He mentioned the other alternative would seem impractical, having train-sized generators. He said generators at the school were not designed for comfort, but for lifesaving.
"I was pleased with our teachers and the way the students responded," Manning said, adding no one was injured and no equipment was damaged in the ordeal.
Class continues as usual today at North Clayton High School, he said.