Saturday, Mar 8, 2014
Schools Using Up Emergency Days on First Snow
UNION COUNTY -- The snow days are adding up for area school districts. Some rural roads and side streets needed for bus routes are still packed with ice and snow.
Several districts were closed again Wednesday for the fourth day in a row.
Schools in Illinois are required to have at least five emergency days built into their calendar. If they don't use them, the spring semester lets out early. If they go past the five, the districts will have to get state approval for Act of God days.
Many districts in our region are closing in on the Act of God category after just one snow storm.
The halls of Anna-Jonesboro High School have been empty since last week. It's a stretch of missed class time not seen in recent semesters.
"Last two years, we haven't used a snow day," said Superintendent James Woodward.
Woodward feels this wave of winter weather is different. The chilly temperatures have not allowed for much melting.
"Normally we'll get maybe a little bit of ice, and then that's it," said Woodward. "Or we'll get some snow, and that's it. Well, we had the ice with the snow."
Safety concerns for bus drivers and teen drivers has taken top priority. Every afternoon, Woodward travels the district to test out the conditions.
"We've got interstates, highways, and blacktop, and oil and chip roads that all feed into our school," said Woodward.
So far, he's found routes that would be tough to navigate. Even the school's parking lot had spots that needed to be cleared on Wednesday.
"We got some areas that still have three inches of compact snow and ice," said Woodward.
However, Woodward is concerned by the number of cancellations before Christmas break.
As of Wednesday, Anna-Jonesboro was at the end of their emergency days. They used four days for this winter storm. Kids were also out of school for one day earlier this year for a power outage.
The district will have to rely on Act of God days for any future snow storms.
Some of the Anna-Jonesboro students have not minded their long break.
"Going out, sledding, and sometimes having a bonfire," said Junior Colton Jerolds.
Jerolds isn't looking forward to extra homework when classes start again. He would rather enjoy the time outdoors now, even if it means the school year becomes a little longer.
"It's pretty fun being out in the snow," said Jerolds. "You get a whole summer. Sometimes you don't get a winter, like snow days."
Woodward says he's going to be talking with the bus drivers about the possibility of creating snow routes. He would like to bring up the idea with the school board next week.
Anna-Jonesboro shares bus routes with Anna Elementary School, Jonesboro Elementary School, and Lick Creek Elementary School.
Wind: 3 MPH
Humidity: 87 %