Sulphur Springs will not extend school year due to fire closures

Sulphur Springs Union School District administrative offices.
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After needing to shut down schools due to fires and the threat of power shutoffs, including shutting down school for a whole week, Sulphur Springs Union School District officials said they will not be adding any makeup days due to the fires.

Due to weather conditions on Oct. 10, the district’s schools had a minimum day, and after the Saddleridge Fire broke out later that night, all school sites were closed on Oct. 11. Two weeks later, weather conditions once again prompted a minimum day Oct. 24; and later that day, the Tick Fire broke out in Canyon Country, resulting in districtwide closures Oct. 25.

The Tick Fire was so close to the SSUSD, with smoke damage having been either present or needing to be checked for and cleaned at all schools, district officials announced that all nine school sites within the district would need to be closed from Oct. 28 to Nov. 1.

“All schools are closed for the rest of the week due to the smoke damage that occurred due to the Tick Canyon Fire,” said Superintendent Catherine Kawaguchi. All schools would need to be cleaned by a property remediation company, to test the air quality to determine the appropriate date for students and staff to return, she added.

“There will not be any makeup days due to the fire,” district officials said in an email Thursday. “Education Code 41422 states that districts will continue to receive revenue and authorizes the district to run on a reduced instructional schedule due to an emergency situation.”

The district must now submit a J-13 form to the board of trustees as a recommendation to approve at a future board meeting. A J-13 form, according to the California Department of Education, serves to document SSUSD’s compliance with instructional time laws and provide authority to maintain school for less than the required instructional days and minutes without incurring a fiscal penalty to the SSUSD’s Local Control Funding Formula, or LCFF, funding.

The approval process generally takes up to six to nine months, but district officials believe the CDE will attempt to expedite the process due to all the districts in the SCV submitting J-13 forms due to weather and the fires.

District officials have said they have been very proactive in communicating with families and staff on a regular basis about the school closure process.

“Our families and staff have been very supportive of the district’s process of assuring that the schools are safe to reopen next week,” officials said Thursday. “Educational Services Department will be working with teachers to adjust pacing guides to ensure that children are not losing out on instructional content.”

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