Dave Scott

News about school closings travels like wildfire through most of our community.

But not everywhere.

At Findley elementary school in Akron’s North Hill neighborhood, getting that news out takes more effort — and not everyone is happy to hear it.

For example, a van full of children pulled up to the Tallmadge Avenue school around 8 a.m. Wednesday, ready to start another day of education.

Waiting for them was Principal Sherry Bennington to pass on what was taken as bad news: a fourth consecutive day off because of harsh weather.

It happens every “calamity” day at Findley.

Bennington expected some families to miss the news and show up Wednesday, even though the temperature was 10 degrees below zero, the sidewalks were so impassable many people were walking in the streets and Akron Public Schools told the media by early Tuesday evening that there would be no classes the following morning.

On days when the closing is announced early in the morning, even more families show up, only to be disappointed.

“School is a priority for all of our families, for any culture, so they want to make sure that school is closed,” she said.

Findley is unlike any other school in the Akron area. For more than half of the children, English is a second language. Seven different languages are heard every day. Adorning the main hallway are 12 banners representing countries of origin for the students. Three more banners are on order.

It’s also Akron’s fastest growing school, adding two classes this year and already above designed capacity only four years after being rebuilt.

The language issue is why Findley needs one more way to announce a closing, after the radio, television, newspapers and mass telephone calls most schools rely on.

On the front door is the picture of a cute little school with a slash, the international symbol of negativity. The only word used is a small “Findley” on the schoolhouse.

“The kids know that if they see those signs, there is no school,” Bennington said.

Not all families own televisions or telephones, so there are communication challenges.

“A lot of our families will watch TV online, not necessarily a local channel where they are able to read and understand that it is a snow day,” she said. “And if they have a cellphone or a home phone, they are not getting the automated phone calls.”

Even if the school system’s automated phone call is received, it might not be understood.

“I would say the majority do have a phone. However, you have to make sure the person answering the phone understands English. That’s probably more of the concern,” she said.

Many North Hill families include grandparents, cousins and other families members who still speak the language of the country they left.

The biggest group studying English as a second language is from Nepal. Arabic and Burmese are other large segments. Spanish is the smallest.

Weather permitting, Bennington expects to be back to the customary 94 percent attendance today.

“I’m guessing they will be eager to come to school,” she said. “It has been four days.”

Dave Scott can be reached at 330-996-3577 or davescott@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow Scott on Twitter at Davescottofakro.