School district has already needed 10 'snow' days

The Hannibal School District #60's Board of Education on a 5-2 vote Wednesday night approved pushing back the high school graduation one week to May 23.

The change was due to the number of lost school days due to inclement weather thus far in the school year. The district's total number of "snow" days stood at 10 after Wednesday's cancellation of classes due to ice on the roads.

The school year is scheduled to end on May 24.

Board member J'Nelle Lee spoke in favor of keeping graduation day May 16, saying parents of senior students have been making graduation-related plans based on that date since the school year started.

Board member Christinia Booth expressed concern for teachers. "It's awfully hard for us to ask them, especially with all these inclement weather days when they're having to adjust their plans, to write two separate finals, because I know there are so many classes with underclassmen and upperclassmen in them," she said.

Consideration was also given to the seniors’ lost classroom time if the semester is not extended.

"The ones who had it (semester classes) the first semester are going to have two weeks more of instruction," said Assistant Superintendent Darin Powell.

Mark Bross, board president, said keeping seniors in school longer would likely not be productive. "If you make them go the week of graduation, that instruction time is not going to be quality at all. They will be tuned out," he said.

Another factor raised was the approximately $94,000 in revenue the district would stand to lose in government funding as a result of classroom time that seniors lost due to inclement weather and the five days that HHS seniors traditionally take off in advance of graduation.

"Not that it's all about money, I don't mean to be that way, but I feel I need to be thorough in talking about this," said Superintendent Susan Johnson.

Johnson was confident that the seniors would not be happy with moving back graduation.

"Seniors won't like it because they want to get out of school like they had planned," she said. "But it's mother nature. Everybody else doesn't want to get out on the 24th either, but they're going to."

Johnson did not envy the decision that board members had to make.

"It's a hard decision. I don't know if there is a right or wrong, it's just a matter of making a decision," she said. "I do feel we have to do what's in the best interest of student learning, so I am probably a little bit more swayed that way (delaying graduation), not that I don't totally get what everyone else is saying."