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With dozens of families without power, Belton School District offers help

BELTON, Mo. -- With thousands still in the dark, one local school district is stepping in to help out.

After the storm, the Belton School District was inundated with calls from parents concerned about the post-storm power outages and how it would affect their children.

Students who can't make it to school are getting excused absences, but that's not all. The district is going several steps further to help.

"We care about the kid and the families and what happens to them, not just when they are at school but all of the time," said Sara Jones, Belton School District assistant superintendent.

The district is showing its affection for students, parents, staff and the entire community by helping them weather the aftermath of the storm.

Of the 4,500 students in the district, 100 on average haven't made it back to school yet because many families in the community are still without power.

Jones said those absences prompted district officials to talk about how they could help.

"Obviously helping families because even some of our staff, of course, don't have power, but also how can we help so our kids can get to school also," she said.

Some families don't have hot water and can't shower right now. So the district is offering the showers in the sports facility locker rooms for students and families to use.

"'We can't wash the kids clothes. We can't wash our clothes.' So we have facilities for that, and schools are in a unique position to have facilities for that. Not for the general public to use all the time, but in an emergency, it makes sense to share that," Jones said.

Katie Paine knows the despair of living in the cold without electricity. She said her house became unbearably cold when she lost power over the weekend. Then a normally small mistake had a big impact.

"Locked my keys in the car, so I couldn`t go anywhere," the Belton mom said. "Even though it was freezing I couldn't go anywhere so I just just kind of huddled up."

Paine doesn't need to take advantage of the district's offer because her power has been restored, but she and other parents aren't surprised by the generosity of the administration.

"But I am glad that they are offering that kind of assistance because I think that is important to those families especially in this area to have that option," she said.

"I think it's great," Jeff Poffinbarger said. "I mean, a community that comes together, stays together. Helps out the town, especially a small town like this."

"We feel like we are a family and a community, and we want to be able to assist in any way we can," Jones said.

With another winter storm on the way, Jones said this is a fluid situation for Belton schools. The administrators have already begun planning what they'll do to continue helping families.

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