WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Closed MO Schools Could Lose Money

Jefferson City, MO – School districts throughout Missouri are closing their doors because of the swine flu. Those decisions could impact the district's bottom lines.

Jim Morris with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education says about 25 schools have canceled classes for extended periods to try to combat the spread of the flu.

The list includes the Clark County R-I, Scotland County R-I, and Canton R-V school districts in Northeast Missouri.

Morris says the department is hopeful the districts will be able to make up those days off. He says that is because school funding is based on daily and hourly attendance.

"If there is a serious flu outbreak that affects a large part of the state or if it prolonged," says Morris, "then the absentee rate could be serious and the state may have to look at the financial ramifications of that."

Morris says the decisions to cancel classes are made at the local level. He says administrators know whether it is economically feasible to run bus routes and make lunches for a reduced number of students.

Morris says the only recommendations coming from his department involve attendance policies. He says districts should waive the need for a doctor's note for a student returning to class and relax rewards for perfect attendance.

Morris says, at this point, the swine flu outbreaks have been brief and spread out in Missouri. He says the state is asking schools to track attendance and report it to state health leaders.