Mt. Vernon Register-News

December 18, 2013

Snow impacts school calendars

By TRAVIS MORSE travis.morse@register-news.com
The Register-News

---- — MT. VERNON — This month’s heavy snowfall has already had an effect on area school calendars, delaying the end of school by three days in most cases.

Mt. Vernon Township High School and District 80 schools have each used three snow days so far in December.

MVTHS has eight emergency days built into this year’s calendar. The three snow days taken so far will likely be made up at the end of the school year.

If the school were to use all eight days, MVTHS officials would have the option of making all of them up or applying for “Act of God” days from the state, said Superintendent Michael Smith. Act of God days do not have to be made up at the end of the year.

“Eight has been more than enough in the past,” Smith said.

MVTHS’ original last day of school was May 23.

District 80 Superintendent Mike Green said he anticipates district officials having a more in-depth discussion on the school calendar in January.

As of yet, no significant alterations have been made to the District 80 calendar, aside from the fact that three days will have to be made up either during spring break or at the end of the year, Green said. Currently, officials plan to do it at the end of the year.

“It hasn’t had an impact on our calendar yet, but winter is just starting,” Green said.

Green said amending the school calendar can be an emotional issue and many people have input on the process, including employees and the union.

Still, the District 80 Board of Education makes the final decision on amending the calendar, Green said.

Webber Township High School and Bluford Grade School have each used

four snow days so far this month. The schools have five emergency days built into the calendar.

The original last day for these schools was set for May 22. The new date will likely be May 29.

As a result of the weather, Webber Township High School’s homecoming was rescheduled from Dec. 7 to Jan. 4. The school has also had to reschedule some basketball games, said Superintendent Scott Porter.

Porter said Webber Township High School and Bluford Grade School use, on average, two snow days a year.

“We’ve had milder winters,” Porter said of recent years.

Waltonville High School used three snow days, which puts the school’s last day at June 3 instead of May 29, said Shlonda Horton, the school’s principal and superintendent of the Waltonville district.

Horton said she hopes her school won’t have to use any more snow days this season. However, the safety of the students and faculty is the primary concern, she said.

“We don’t risk the safety of teachers or students,” Horton said. “If we need (snow days), we’ll take them. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Woodlawn High School and Grade School also used three snow days. The last day of school for Woodlawn has been changed from May 29 to June 3, said Superintendent David Larkin.

Rome Grade School, Grand Prairie Grade School and McClellan Grade School have each used three snow days as well.

Because of this, Grand Prairie’s Christmas program was moved from Dec. 10 to Dec. 19, said Interim Superintendent Alan Estes.

“One or two (snow days) is pretty common,” Estes said. “Anytime we use more than five, it’s pretty unusual. … We’ll err on the side of caution with the buses out there.”

McClellan Superintendent Charles Peterson said the only event that might change on his school’s calendar is the graduation date.

He said graduation may be pushed back from May 20 to May 27, since school will be getting out a little later with the snow days. However, none of these dates have been firmly decided yet, Peterson said.