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Morton High School Wednesday closing orchestrated to avoid bigger problems

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013 1:05 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013 5:12 p.m. CDT

CICERO – Students at the Morton High School Freshman Center were released from classes and sent home at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, but it wasn't a total surprise or the result of an emergency, it was part of a greater plan to avoid one.

Morton School District Superintendent Michael Kuzniewski said he received a telephone call Tuesday evening from Water Department Director Lido Manetti who reported a water main break on a private lot where construction was underway. Manetti informed the superintendent that the town of Cicero needed to cut water service to initiate repairs. Cutting service to the leak also meant cutting service to the Freshman Center.

If service was cut before the morning classes started, it also meant many students who participated in the school's breakfast program couldn't be served.

Kuzniewski said the heads up gave him time to develop a plan to abbreviate the class schedule and hold classes before the water was shut off at 11:30 a.m.

"I have great people here and it was really helpful that the town waited," he said. "We knew this was going to happen, so a global connect went out to all parents after the kids were in school."

The reason the call went out after school started, Kuzniewski said, was he wanted to avoid any temptation for students to decide they would blow of a half-day of school.

Manetti said although the actual leak was on private factory property, it required cutting off the main water service so private contractors could go in and repair the leak.

Because the service was already temporarily cut, it seemed a perfect time for Water Department crews to install a valve that could be used to shut off service to the factory in the event that any other problems occur, but at the same time allow the water to continue to service the surrounding area, including the Morton Freshman Center, Morton Alternative School and Unity Middle School.

"Now we won't ever have to affect the other schools," Manetti said.

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