Missouri lawmaker proposes to excuse snow days

Saturday, February 12, 2011 | 4:31 p.m. CST

JEFFERSON CITY — Skies are clear and snow has stopped falling across most of the state, but now Missouri school districts are trying to figure out how to reschedule days lost to the winter storm that recently swept through the state.

One Missouri lawmaker wants to excuse schools from making up the days missed because of weather from Jan. 31 to Feb. 4, so that schools do not need to cut into their spring breaks or push back their summer holiday.

"I consider it a compromise," said sponsoring Rep. Joe Aull, D-Marshall. "I think make-ups are important. I think attending a good number of days is important. But I think you have to decide, where do we get to that level where it's counterproductive?"

Aull, a former school superintendent and administrator, said he wants the bill to be passed by early March so that schools can re-work their schedules quickly. The bill would take effect when Gov. Jay Nixon signs it instead of in August when many laws take effect.

Missouri law requires that students be in class for at least 174 days for a school to receive all of its state funding. Under that law, schools must make up the first six days that are canceled because of inclement weather if missing those days puts the school under the 174-day minimum. After that, schools are required to make up half of the days that are missed, up to eight snow days.

Schools do not need to make up any missed days after that, even if students would be in class for fewer than 174 days.

Many school districts already include six possible snow days in the calendars they set at the beginning of the year. That way, they still have days to spare if it snows. In other words, many schools schedule 180 days of class.

Aull wants to excuse all the school days missed when Nixon declared a state of emergency.

Without that change, some schools might need to hold classes in late May or early June.

David Luther, a spokesman for Jefferson City Public Schools, said the district has had nine snow days, which includes the week a storm dropped about 18 inches of snow in the capitol city.

Luther said the district already schedules the first six days that must be made up into the calendar at the start of the year. But for the other two days that need to be made up, he said the district is considering holding class on Good Friday or after Memorial Day.

Luther said finishing after Memorial Day could cut into summer plans for teachers and students' families.

"Coming back one day after Memorial Day is not very productive," he said.

Ron Lankford, a deputy commissioner for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, said the snow has caused problems for schools.

"School districts think in the best interest of safety, and this storm was such it wasn't an argument about whether the roads were too slick, you just had roads you couldn't get through," said Lankford to members of The Associated Press and the Missouri Press Association at their annual capitol media event this past week. "So school districts will have to try to wrestle with trying to make it up."

Aull filed his legislation this past week and claims support from about a dozen Republican lawmakers.

"This is not a Democratic or Republican issue," Aull said. "This is everyone thinking about how we can help the schools out."


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Kaleb Rippstein February 12, 2011 | 11:11 p.m.

It certainly doesn't help out the teacher's aides or paras who are hourly employees. They don't get paid for snow days and the only consolation is that they will still be working those hours later on. If those days are excused, our family and many others will be out hundreds of dollars.

(Report Comment)
Patrick earney February 13, 2011 | 8:59 a.m.

One wonders when we became more concerned with "cutting into summer plans" than with educating our children.

(Report Comment)
hank ottinger February 13, 2011 | 1:33 p.m.

@Patrick: Hear, hear. The US lags so many other countries in education, as recent studies show. But consider that other countries' educational schedules run out to 240 dqys, in some cases more--not the 180 that are required here, largely a vestige of a 19th century agrarian society.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 13, 2011 | 2:17 p.m.

hank ottinger: You may be the person who can answer this question:

Many say that the US lags other countries in education. To my knowledge, such statements are based upon comparison of test scores from various countries. While test scores in the US are obtained from ALL students, those from many other countries (to whom we are compared) are from select students chosen to go on to higher education. INO, apples are not being compared to apples. These same arguments state that if we compared 25% to other countrys' best 25%, we'd be ranked just fine.

Do you have comments/thoughts about this?


(Report Comment)
hank ottinger February 13, 2011 | 4:18 p.m.

@ Michael. I'm not sure I am the person to answer the question. My hunch is that the recent tests probably accounted for differences. The attached link suggests that a range of students were tested in all countries. But this I think I know, and that is that many other countries, notably in Asia, take education far more seriously than most schools in the US. And importantly, the institutions are far from alone in this endeavor. Parents drive their kids hard out of both personal and national pride. No definitive barometer, but in my own 40-year experience as an educator, the international students in my classes were, in the main, far more attentive, far more responsible, and far less prone to come up with lame excuses to account for missing or late assignments. No dogs ate their homework.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 13, 2011 | 9:48 p.m.

Hank says, "...many other countries, notably in Asia, take education far more seriously than most schools in the US."


Thought I'd ask the question, tho. I've heard the argument enuf times.

(Report Comment)

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