Snow days no impact on general state aid


Sub-zero temperatures called for yet another day of canceled classes for most schools in Central Illinois, but with so many days off lately, what does this mean for schools?

These snow days, or emergency days, do not impact any general state aid for public schools. Schools typically work in five emergency days at the end of the calendar year to accommodate these days off, but should they go over, as long as they make up the days, there are no consequences.

Schools were empty. Mother Nature caused another closure, but one more cancelation on the calendar, doesn't have the same affect on general state aid for public schools.

"There is some confusion," said Todd Covault Director of Business Affairs at Decatur Public Schools. "People think that if you cancel school that you lose general state aid."

But financial support is based on three consecutive months of best average daily attendance.

"For us it tends to be the first three months of the school year," Covault said.

In the last few weeks, Decatur public schools have accumulated three emergency days.

"Not having school this day is not a detrimental impact to the district because in our calendar we have days planned for making it up," he explained. "It would only affect if the school district took a snow day and then didn't make it up."

Whether students go to Decatur Public Schools or to Meridian High School, the rules are the same. They apply to every public school in the state. But how many emergency days schools have used so far, that, could be different.

"So far, in January, we've canceled five days," said Dan Brue Superintendent of the Meridian School District.

Five is the maximum number of emergency days Meridian has on its calendar. Should it close its doors five more times, "Then I'd probably recommend to the board to use act of god days," he said.

Act of god days are when schools must apply to have extra days off and approved by regional offices and the State Board of Education. There is no general state aid penalty, but there may be one for the students.

"Those would be lost days of instruction," Brue said.

As for how many more canceled days, only time will tell.

Decatur Public Schools and the Meridian School District will both be closed again Tuesday. As these days start to add up, all schools also have the option of rearranging their calendar to attend class on previously planned days off like around spring break or other holidays.

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