School district looks to state for snow day waivers | SierraSun.com

School district looks to state for snow day waivers

Renee Shadforth

The Tahoe Truckee Unified School District lost more than time in the classroom during the week of storms from Dec. 16 to 20. They also forfeited approximately $146,000 per day in average daily attendance (ADA) funding and a multitude of instructional minutes in the classroom.

Although the district can choose to make up the days at the end of the school year, administrators elected to apply for a waiver from the California Department of Education for the money and time lost.

“We don’t know if we’re done with snow days, yet,” said Ralph Johnson, district business manager.

Johnson asked the board of trustees to approve the waiver at the March 5 meeting. The four present board members passed it unanimously. Board President Patricia Gibbons-Johnson was absent.

Trustee Cindy Gustafson voiced slight hesitation before voting for the action item.

“For the high school students, it was pretty devastating,” she said. “They’re on the block schedule, so they missed all that coursework. But I’m still going to vote for this.”

Based on education code 41422, the district may request the waiver if one or more schools are closed because of “fire, flood, earthquake or epidemic … or because of other extraordinary conditions.”

If granted to the district, the apportionment will also cover minutes and ADA lost at Prosser Creek Charter School.

In the district’s request for allowance of attendance, administrators cited “powerful storms” with “extremely high winds and heavy snowfall,” which cut out power in many areas, as grounds for the waiver. Hazardous road conditions also made it difficult for school buses to make their routes in higher elevations, according to the district’s request.

“We don’t only check the morning weather, we have to see what the roads are like at 1:30 in the afternoon, also,” said Tom Miller, the district’s director of transportation services. “Not only do we have to get the children to school, we have to get them home safely as well.”

Miller said the superintendent makes the final call for a snow day, but the transportation department is a key part of the 4:30 a.m. decision.

Although administrators aren’t expecting to get all five days waived, Johnson said he hopes they’ll receive at least a few.

“We would have a monetary loss if we extend the school year,” Johnson said. “ADA is less at the end of the year.”