Ohio House approves additional calamity days, schools await Senate approval

by Tim Troglen | reporter Published:

Hudson -- Depending on an impending vote by the Ohio Senate, districts could receive up to four additional calamity days this school year, on a one-time-basis, due to the extremely harsh winter.

On Feb. 19, the Ohio House approved legislation by a vote of 80 to 16. The bill must go before the Senate for passage.

Hudson City Schools, like most districts in Ohio have exceeded their allotted five calamity days. The district exceeded five days by one, using its last day Feb. 18.

"Under current law, if there are any additional calamity days, we will need to make up each additional day by adding days to the end of the year," Hudson Superintendent Phil Herman said. "With several weeks of winter remaining, it is certainly possible that we could experience winter weather that would require additional calamity days."

Herman said each school day is important to the district.

"We value each day we have with our students to cover our designated curriculum," Herman said. "At the same time, when schools are required to make up days, it can be frustrating to parents and families who have summer plans or commitments that have been made based on our current calendar."

If the law is not passed, the district would be required to make up the calamity day June 5.

And while Hudson has exceeded its allotted days by one, some schools in Ohio have missed many more.

One in three Ohio school districts have already used up their five calamity days, according to State Rep. Tony Burkley, a Republican from Payne in northwest Ohio, who sponsored the bill to increase calamity days. Co-sponsor Rep. Brian Hill, a Republican from Zanesville, said schools in his eastern Ohio district have missed as many as 17 days to date.

"Concern about calamity days should never outweigh the safety of our children," Hill said.

Gov. John Kasich has supported adding extra snow days on a one-time basis this year.

However, opponents have said schools need to do more to make up the lost days on the weekends or through longer school days.

Rep. Michael Henne said giving children more days off will cause them to fall behind academically.

"It's time for us to get our priorities in order," said Henne, a Republican from Clayton in southwest Ohio. "We still have plenty of days where they can make up these days."

Schools can also make up three days by using "blizzard bags," lesson plans and materials prepared ahead of time for work at home in case of bad weather.

Calamity will no longer be an issue in the district during the 2015-16 school year.

State law will no longer classify school years in days, but hours. At the same time, the state will also eliminate calamity days. However, districts can use extra hours in the school calendar as calamity days, if needed, without making up missed time.

According to Herman, Hudson High School students will have about 179 hours more than required.

Mark Kovac contributed to this story.

Email: ttroglen@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9435

Facebook: TimTroglenRPC

Twitter: @Trog_RPC

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  • Hmmmmm....    So these same legislators recently voted to measure sufficient class time in terms of hours per year, and it turns out that most public schools in Ohio are already providing WAY MORE than they believed was sufficient -  almost 30 DAYS more in the case of Hudson High School?   And now, they're throwing a hissy-fit over whether they should "allow" local school boards and school leaders the freedom to decide the issue of making up two or three missed days?      Wow, is there anybody out there who actually believes it when our A.L.E.C.-worshipping Republicans claim to be against top-down, "big" government?    Their arrogant hypocrisy is fast becoming an insult to the intelligence of Ohioans.