Long Road to School
Highway 1 collapse forces alternative education for Big Sur students.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Kaili Alexander has a five-hour commute to Carmel High School that takes her through two counties and over three highways.
Fortunately, the Big Sur resident only makes the arduous trip twice a week—along with a few dozen other students forced to make the trek since a landslide took out a 40-foot section of Highway 1 just north of Bixby Bridge on March 17.
It’s part of the new reality for Big Sur, but one that the Carmel Unified School District has prepared for; many students are benefiting from a host-family program the district set up so Big Sur students would have local places to stay in case an emergency cut off their routes home.
“We have had similar experiences before, so we have had a host-family program for many years,” says Paul Behan, director of technology and data services for Carmel Unified School District. “Our idea is for them to be thinking about this before [slides] happen.”
At the beginning of the school year, Carmel High sent out information to families in Big Sur and asked them to have a contact in Carmel ready for any potential disaster.
If a stranded family does not want to make the long trek up to school, the district also set up Captain Cooper school with remote computers for students, so they can keep up with their classwork and stay in Big Sur.
“That’s huge, especially for the younger kids,” Alexander says. Behan agrees.
“We know we can offer the best education if they can come to school,” he says. “We do realize that is not always an option, especially with long road closures.”