Schools making up lost time
This winter's snowstorms may be no more than a memory, but many area students will still be feeling the effects beyond May.
At least 35 local districts and private schools say they'll extend the 2013-14 academic calendar into June, due to class days missed because of the snow, ice and bitter cold.
"The last day of student attendance is June 6. If we had not used any emergency days, we would have gotten out on May 30," said Blue Ridge Superintendent Susan Wilson, echoing a familiar theme in East Central Illinois. "We used all five of our emergency days and three 'Act of God' days."
Among 62 districts and private schools surveyed by The News-Gazette, the Danville district has the latest final class day — June 10. (Kids attending the city's Northeast Magnet School, which operates on a balanced schedule, will go all the way to June 12).
Arthur Christian School will let out earlier than any area school surveyed. Kids' last day there: May 15.
School won't let out until June 5 at Gifford Elementary, which not only had snow days off; students also missed a week's worth of classes after the tornado that tore through the village on Nov. 17, a Sunday.
School didn't resume in Gifford until two Mondays later, meaning the school had used its allotted five emergency days before Thanksgiving.
"There were several other days that were missed due to the bad weather this winter, but we filed 'Act of God' days with the state board, and those days do not have to be made up," Gifford Superintendent Rodney Grimsley said.
Illinois public schools are required to schedule at least five emergency days into the year, according to Mary Fergus, a spokeswoman for the State Board of Education. They can be used at the district's discretion, but must be made up before the end of the school year.
But before the end of January? Rantoul Township High School Superintendent Scott Amerio couldn't remember a winter that wreaked as much havoc on school calendars as this one. His district's last day will be June 3 — not May 27, like it would have without any missed time.
Rantoul Township, like many districts across the state, was fresh out of its five days — plus one — entering frigid February. That's when "Act of God" days come into play for public school districts. If they go over the allotted five days due to "conditions beyond their control," they can request reprieves — within 30 days — from the regional and state superintendent's offices.
If their "Act of God" requests are OK'd, districts don't have to extend their school years by sixth, seventh or more days.
Some schools were able to avoid adding days to their calendar.
Monticello Superintendent Vic Zimmerman said his district decided not to add class days — technically, anyway.
"The last day on the calendar was listed as June 4, including using five snow days, so technically the end date did not change," he said. "But everyone expects to get out prior to the last day on the calendar because no one expects to use all five (or more) days. We felt like this winter was abnormal so we decided not to make up the two extra days."
Heritage Superintendent Tom Davis said his school board decided to hold its last day for student attendance on June 2. Extending the year by two or three days, he said, would have meant delaying the start of summer school, "some major grant-funded repairs and upgrades to our schools in Homer and Broadlands" and, worst of all, family time.
"The overwhelming majority of feedback we received from parents was that going two or three days beyond June 2 was not feasible with set summer plans," Davis said.
The last day of school for 65 area districts and private schools:
Armstrong Ellis Grade School: June 3
Armstrong Township: June 3
Arthur Christian: May 15
Arthur-Lovington: May 30
Atwood-Hammond: May 27
Bement: May 27
Bismarck-Henning: June 2
Blue Ridge: June 6
Campus Middle School for Girls, Urbana: May 30
Catlin: June 3
Cerro Gordo: May 27
Champaign Unit 4 (regular calendar): June 3
Champaign Unit 4 (balanced calendar): June 9
Charleston: May 30
Chrisman: May 28
Clinton: June 2
Countryside School, Champaign: May 30
Danville: June 10
Danville Christian: May 22
Danville Lutheran: May 30
Deland-Weldon: June 5
Faith Christian, Monticello: May 23
Fisher: June 2
Georgetown-Ridge Farm: June 3
Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley: June 5
Gifford: June 5
Heritage: June 2
Holy Cross, Champaign: June 3
Hoopeston Area: June 2
Jamaica: June 2
Judah Christian, Champaign: May 22
Ludlow: June 5
Mahomet-Seymour: June 5
Mattoon: June 3
Monticello: June 3
Monticello Christian: May 21
Next Generation, Champaign: May 23
Northeast Magnet, Danville: June 12
Oakland: May 29
Oakwood: June 3
Paris Cooperative District: May 23
Paxton-Buckley-Loda: June 4
Prairieview-Ogden: May 28
Rantoul City Schools: June 5
Rantoul Township High: June 3
Schlarman, Danville: May 23
St. John's Lutheran, Buckley: May 16
St. John Lutheran, Champaign: May 30
St. Joseph elementary schools: June 6
St. Joseph-Ogden: June 6
St. Malachy, Rantoul: May 29
St. Matthew, Champaign: June 2
St. Thomas More, Champaign: June 3
St. Thomas School, Philo: May 29
Shiloh: June 3
Sullivan: May 29
Tolono Unit 7: June 6
Tuscola: May 29
University Primary, Champaign: June 2
University High, Urbana: May 28
Urbana: June 4
Villa Grove: June 2
Westville: June 3