Illinois Schools May Opt For "Act Of God" Exemption Days - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Illinois Schools May Opt For "Act Of God" Exemption Days

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Extreme cold temperatures this year have caused many school districts in Illinois to use up the five allotted emergency days to close schools, but what happens if they need more than five? 

There's a rare option for these kinds of harsh weather conditions, it's called an "Act of God" exemption day. Something some parent's and students haven't even heard of and many school superintendents haven't ever had to deal with. 

Superintendents across the QCA have mixed feelings about whether they should apply for an "Act of God" exemption day.

"This really is one of those rare times," said Superintendent Ray Bergles of Silvis School District 34. 
He said this is the first time since he started teaching in the 1970's that the district has used up the allotted five emergency days, like many districts for bad weather this year. Usually they only use one or two emergency days per year, never all five. 

If they need to close school again, they have the option to apply to the State of Illinois for an "Act of God" exemption day. That means Illinois schools don't have to make up more than five snow days and they still get to keep state funding. 

"I would much rather have the students in school... and we're going later," said Bergles. "So, I know nobody likes that, but the fact of the matter is tax payers are paying taxes for students to be educated."

He said according to teacher contracts, they get paid for 180 days of class, even if they don't make up an emergency day. But he said he's worried about other employees like cafeteria workers and bus drivers who miss out on a paycheck if school's canceled. 

"It's not fair if you're going to pay one group, why don't you pay them all and to me that's why you don't apply for an "Act of God" day, let's just make it up and we don't have to worry about that," said Bergles.

United Township High School District 30 Superintendent Jay Morrow said if they miss another day of school, they will apply for an "Act of God Exemption" day.

"It's certainly something new that we're all dealing with this year," said Morrow.

He said extending the school year into the summer is hard on learning productivity.

"It's a challenge to get a full day of education in," said Morrow. "Kids' minds are elsewhere, teachers minds may be elsewhere as well."

Moline School District 40 is one of those schools that have passed the five emergency day threshold and has taken six days off of school so far. Superintendent Dr. Dave Moyer said they're meeting tomorrow to decide whether to tack on the extra day to the calendar or dismiss school for the summer.  

Schools in Iowa don't have the option of  "Act of God Exemption" days. Any days they miss, they have to tack on to the end of the school year. 


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