Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

January 8, 2014

Schools offered waiver for missed days

Having too few instructional days can affect state aid.

By Lauren Fitch Kokomo Tribune
Kokomo Tribune

---- — While students may enjoy a few extra days of winter break this week, local superintendents have their eyes on the calendar, judging how long they can afford to cancel school due to winter weather.

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz has offered waivers to corporations who canceled school Monday or Tuesday because of the extreme weather conditions. Districts that receive the waiver will not have to make up the instructional days.

“She indicated that with the amount of snow across the state and the extreme temperatures, there would be consideration given to a waiver for the number of days,” said Randy McCracken, superintendent of Western School Corp.

Tuesday was Western and Northwestern School Corp.’s first snow day of the 2013-14 school year. The two corporations joined Eastern Howard County School Corp., Kokomo School Corp., Taylor Community School Corp., Peru Community Schools, Maconaquah School Corp. and Tipton Community School Corp. in canceling classes today as well.

Indiana schools are required to have 180 instructional days each school year. Offering fewer instructional days means a loss in state aid for that time.

“It looks like it’s going to be a long winter,” said Ryan Snoddy, superintendent of Northwestern Schools. “We normally don’t have this much snow this early.”

Northwestern’s server has been down for the past few days, so Snoddy has not seen Ritz’s emails himself. But if the waiver is available, he said, Northwestern will apply for it. The corporation has two snow days built into its calendar, with the option of making up two additional days on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Presidents Day if necessary.

Kokomo Schools postponed a teacher curriculum day originally scheduled for Monday before canceling classes Tuesday, when students were supposed to return from winter break. Kokomo Schools canceled classes Nov. 18 after the tornado, and Tuesday was the first snow-related cancellation of the year.

Superintendent Jeff Hauswald said administrators will discuss applying for the make-up day waiver later this week. Kokomo Schools had two extra days built into its calendar in case of cancellations.

“We look at three conditions: Road conditions and safety for buses, sidewalk conditions — we have a lot of people in the city who walk — and the third thing we do consider is temperature,” Hauswald said. “Sometimes it’s a combination of these things, and sometimes it’s just one factor (that leads to a cancellation).”

Tri-Central Community Schools canceled school Monday and Tuesday. As of press deadline, there was no word on whether the corporation would be back to its regular schedule today.

Education reporter Lauren Fitch can be reached at 765-454-8587, by email at lauren.fitch@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @LaurenBFitch.