Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

January 10, 2014

Some districts max out emergency days

TONY HUFFMAN Daily News
Effingham Daily News

---- — Area schools are adjusting their schedules due to turbulent weather and hazardous road conditions that have kept students home all week.

“We will be applying for an 'Act of God' day for tomorrow (Friday),” said Unit 40 Superintendent Mark Doan.

Act of God days allow a district to close school for reasons beyond its control, such as weather, medical outbreak or facility problems. The days are requested for approval through the state superintendent’s office. If granted, the district is not required to make up those days, and they don’t negatively impact the calculation of average daily attendance, which figures into the general state aid money the district receives.

With five emergency days alloted in Unit 40's calendar used this week, today is the sixth. There was also a snow day Dec. 9.

If the act of God day is granted by the state superintendent, Friday, May 30, will be the last day of school for Unit 40. Doan added the state usually grants the request.

Altamont School District, however, is currently planning on making up the sixth day off, rather than applying for the Act of God, according to Superintendent Jeff Fritchtnitch, who said the district has five emergency days built into the school calendar.

Fritchtnitch believes it is better for children to have the day to learn, rather than take it off. He added that the final decision will be made at Monday's school board meeting.

Fritchtnitch is concerned about getting students focused when they return to school on Monday as the snow is expected to melt over next couple of days.

“I'm more concerned with kids being out of school for three weeks,” he said of the extended holiday break. “In some of the high school and junior high classes, where math and science are continual classes, they are going to have to take a little more time to review. Also, the grade school kids are going to have to be brought back on track.”

If Altamont school board decides to make up the extra day, rather than apply for the act of God day, the district's last day of school will be Monday, June 2.

Teutopolis School District has 10 emergency days built into its calendar, said Superintendent Bill Fritcher. Like other schools, if those days aren't used, school will be dismissed earlier, he added.

Despite the extended break, Fritcher expects Monday to be like any normal day following a holiday break.

“Monday will be just like the first day back after Christmas break,” said Fritcher. “We expect kids to be at school ready to learn and teachers ready to teach.”

With temperatures expected to reach nearly 50 degrees by Sunday, roads should improve today, said Effingham County Engineer Greg Koester.

Koester warned rural routes are still snow-packed, but said if drivers use caution, they should be able to travel safely.

Despite the conditions, Koester said no workers were injured this past week. Equipment, however, didn't fare as well.

“We had two of our six trucks go down for different reasons,” he said. “Also, a motor grader broke a hydraulic hose, but those things are bound to happen.”

County highway workers have felt the brunt of the brutal weather.

“Everybody is pretty tired,” said Koester, noting that snowplow drivers have worked extensive overtime hours clearing the roads. “I think they are looking forward to the weekend."

Tony Huffman can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 138, or tony.huffman@effinghamdailynews.com.

Pull-quote

“I'm more concerned with kids being out of school for three weeks."

Altamont Superintendent Jeff Fritchtnitch