Harford schools discard food following Irene outages

Power outages earlier in the week that delayed the start of the new school year in Harford County also forced the county school system to get rid of spoiled food from several school buildings.

School spokesperson Teri Kranefeld confirmed that perishable food had to be discarded from schools where freezers and refrigerators were affected by outages.

Kranefeld said Friday the estimated value of the spoiled food is approximately $24,000.

"We have two means of recovery that will be worked out between HCPS Risk Management Office and the county," wrote in an e-mail. "It has not yet been determined which recovery option will be sought."

One option would be to go through the Maryland Association of Boards of Education, or MABE, a statewide advocate for local school systems, to which the Harford board belongs, on to seek reclamation through the state or federal governments, as the result of the state of emergency declarations, Kranefeld explained.

Harford public school system has 54 school buildings. Because Monday had been the scheduled first day of classes for the 2011-12 school year, most schools were stocked with food before the weekend.

Much of Harford County was without electric power at some point from Saturday because of fallen trees and other damage to the electrical distribution system resulting fromHurricane Irene.

The greatest number of outages was experienced from Saturday through Monday evening; however, many neighborhoods didn't get power restored until late Tuesday, and some were still out Friday afternoon.

Monday morning, Harford School Superintendent Robert Tomback had said at least 28 schools still did not have power. Classes were canceled Monday and again Tuesday. By Tuesday afternoon, school officials were saying seven or eight schools did not have power.

The majority of schools finally opened Wednesday; however, 11 remained closed either because of power problems or road closures affecting the bus routes serving them. Employees did report for work at those schools. All schools were open to students Thursday.

Friday as of 4:30 p.m., Baltimore Gas & Electric was reporting on its website that 945 of the company's 101,000 Harford County customers still did not have power. The outage figure had dropped by 1,500 since 9:30 a.m. Friday.

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