The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

January 12, 2014

Snow waivers would help

The Commercial-News

---- — After a week, the Vermilion County area residents slowly showed signs of getting back into their regular routines after the Jan. 5 storm brought things to a virtual standstill with 10 inches of snow, high winds and record-low temperatures.

Schools closed, businesses shut down and people sealed themselves inside their homes as much as possible as road crews struggled to clear roads and emergency personnel helped those in need.

Area school superintendents faced tough decisions. Student safety always is the first priority. About every district stayed closed through Wednesday, but some stayed closed all week.

In Indiana, state officials took pressure off the superintendents by granting waivers for the snow days, meaning the districts would not have to extend their year into the summer to make up for the lost time in the classroom.

Illinois superintendents could use the same kind of help. Faced with the 180-day in class requirement, superintendents try to get their schools’ doors open as soon as possible, even if conditions might not be ideal. Often, students who walk to school must deal with problems such as impassable sidewalks that force them into the streets.

Giving road crews and extra day to clear away snow might help.

Lawmakers should consider allowing waiver for snow days that follow a storm where at least 6 inches of snow fell in a short time, or where wind or cold were extreme factors. They could use the nearest National Weather Service reporting station as the monitor.

It would create a cushion of safety for students, for road crews trying to create clear paths for everyone and for superintendents who would be able to ensure all students could arrive safe and sound.