FWCS walkers take on winter weather

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Tuesday’s blast of winter weather represented new territory for Fort Wayne Community Schools. It’s the first time thousands of students have had to trek through snow and ice to get to school since last year’s transportation cuts.

NewsChannel 15 talked to a handful of North Side High School students making the walk to school Tuesday morning. While conditions certainly weren’t ideal, several students said it really wasn’t as bad as people might think.

“It’s cold. It’s okay though. It’s just like a rough little cold walk. It’s not that far from here. I live on State and Sherman, so it’s probably about like a 25 minute walk,” sophomore Dariyonte Brown said. “Just thinking that I can get to school on time, just trying to hurry up and get there.”

Junior Soloan Holmes has about a ten minute walk to school.

“It’s cold. It’s real cold. Just too lazy to go out in the cold is how I feel,” Holmes said.

Freshman Vanessa Lovell said her walk takes between 20-30 minutes. She recommended listening to music to help pass the time.

“It’s cold, and my shoes are getting so snowy,” Lovell said. “Some people are just accepting it and trying to get there in a hurry so they can get out of the cold.”

There’s no doubt about it. Warm weather was nowhere to be found in the Summit City Tuesday. The snow and its common companion, the ice, coated many sidewalks along the path to North Side High School.

“It was a little cold, not really too bad. The snow can sometimes get on your nerves when you’re walking to school and your shoes get all wet, but other than that pretty good,” freshman Michael Hart said. “I can’t wait to get to school sometimes. When it’s really cold out, I want to get warmed up real quickly.”

“Well, it’s been interesting because it’s all icy and snowy. I almost fell a couple of times, but you know, just got to get to school. I’m trying to graduate,” senior Alexis Grepke said.

Senior Alexis Grepke is just one of the thousands of students walking to school this year thanks to transportation cuts. Property tax caps forced the district to slash the budget.

“We don’t necessarily want to see students out walking either, but that doesn’t mean that we can provide transportation. We cannot spend more than taxpayers put in,” FWCS spokesperson Krista Stockman said.

The daily walk takes Grepke about a half hour each way.

“I live by the zoo so it’s between that two mile radius,” Grepke said.

But, that commute can’t stop her from taking a road much higher than Tuesday’s temperatures.

“I’m perfectly fine. I’m getting hot actually,” Grepke said.

That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but much like the fresh powder, Grepke is here to provide some fresh perspective.

“You’ve got to suck it up. You’ve got to do things in life that you don’t always want to do, and snow is one of them,” Grepke said.

Many parents have reached out to FWCS on social media, voicing concerns and also complaints. The district has chosen to respond personally to many of those posts.

“We do use social media because we know that’s where parents are, and we do want to hear their comments even if we don’t always agree with what they’re saying,” Stockman said. “I know that some people go there just for the entertainment value, and I know that sometimes the kids get on there and say let’s take a step back, it’s really not as bad as you’re making it out to be. So, it’s interesting to see some of those dialogues. It’s fun because the kids are often the voice of reason.”

Stockman said it’s also important to not compare FWCS to other districts that may have closed today because of the different resources available.

“We don’t have e-learning like some of the other districts do. We know that if our kids aren’t in school that that places a burden on a lot of their parents. So, there’s a lot of factors that we have to consider,” Stockman said. “If we can get the kids to school safely, then that’s where we want them to be.”

With Tuesday being the first delay all school year for FWCS, Stockman said people need to remember it’s still early in the winter season.

“We don’t want to have cancellation after cancellation after cancellation. So, on a day like today, we delayed so that we could get some daylight, let the city get the streets cleared up a little bit, and then we can get the kids to school,” Stockman said. “We do look at those factors that we have more walkers, but on a day like today, when we got not even two inches of snow, we also have to be mindful that it is winter and two inches of snow for Fort Wayne really isn’t that much, especially when we look at the last two winters and what we’ve endured.”

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