Bill passes to allow schools more calamity days

By Joseph Pratt

February 20, 2014

Joseph Pratt


Depending on where you live, Kim Carver, director of Scioto County Emergency Management Agency, says that you’ve seen anywhere from 10 to 13 inches of snow this season, which has caused issues with schools all over the county. Regardless of where we stand on inches of snow, local schools have seen absences ranging from 9 to 22 days.

Some schools have already made up their missed days, while others are in the middle of trying to decide the correct way to handle the situation. Governor John Kasich has even stepped in, passing a onetime proposal to extend the number of calamity days the state will allow school districts to claim. Currently, the number is locked in at five, but new legislature, House Bill 416, gives Ohio schools two additional calamity days and two additional professional development days for teachers that may count toward the required minimum number of school days.

“The safety and well-being of our children must be the top priority for our local school districts. House Bill 416 will alleviate some of the pressure on school superintendents when they are deciding whether or not to cancel school because they have already used their allotment of calamity days,” Rep. Hill said. “Concern about calamity days should never outweigh the safety of our children.”

In addition to calamity days, schools already have the ability to make up three days through the use of “blizzard bags,” which are lesson plans and teaching materials prepared in advance of inclement weather. Starting with the 2014-2015 school year, schools will be switching from a measurement of days to hours for minimum instruction time.

Portsmouth City Schools District has missed 10 days of school. Portsmouth Board of Education recently approved of the issuance of blizzard bags as a mean of letting their students complete missed work. With H.B 414 and blizzard bags, Portsmouth will be able to miss two more days of school, before attendance becomes an issue again.

Wheelersburg local School District has missed the least, at nine days, and is already caught up. The school issued blizzard bags and spent Presidents’ Day in session to make up the four absences. H.B. 416 gives them the ability to miss four more days of school before attendance becomes an issue again.

Clay Local School District has missed ten days. One day was made up on Presidents Day. They will not be issuing blizzard bags, due to a disagreement of philosophy of Superintendent Tony Mantell. Mantell has stated that he prefers for the students to be in class learning, rather than completing work in a blizzard bag. H.B. 416 makes Clay break even with their absences.

Washington-Nile School District has missed 13 days of school. They’ve used their allotted blizzard bags. Contracts at Washington-Nile have arranged any make up days to be completed at the end of the school year. They currently have one day to make up.

Northwest Local Schools District has missed a total of 13 days of school. One day has already been made up, blizzard bags are approved and with H.B. 416, they are currently breaking even.

New Boston Local School District has missed a total of 11 days. New Boston has made up three days from blizzard bags. New Boston currently has one day left before attendance becomes an issue again. New Boston Superintendent, Mike Staggs stated that any make up days after what the state has allotted will be tacked to the end of the academic year.

Valley Local School District has missed a total of 14 days. With the extension of H.B. 416 and blizzard bags, the school will have two days to make up. Options for further make up days are being explored by the school.

Sciotoville Community Schools have missed 12 days of schools, but operate on a different schedule than the rest of the local school districts.

“We are on a schedule based on hours and not days, so we are in a different situation with making up days,” Superintendent Rick Bowman said. “All of the other schools will be switching over to hours next year, but we’ve always been on hours. Right now, we’ve scheduled two days through online makeup days, but as of right now, both of our schools are above minimal hours to meet requirements. We are intending to make a day up on March 1 and will look at others.”

Notre Dame has missed a total of 10 days. The school made one of their missed days on Presidents Day, breaking them even with allotted days. Principal Kathy Milligan stated that any make up days will either be made up with spring break or will be tacked on at the end of the school calendar.

Bloom-Vernon Local School District has missed a total of 14 days. With blizzard bags, and with H.B. 416 they will need to make up two days.

Minford Local School District has missed a total of 11 days. They will be using three blizzard bags and will have one day left before they run into issues of attendance. Any additional days will be added to the end of the academic calendar.

Scioto County Career Technical Center has missed 11 days. SCCTC has used three blizzard bags and will have a remaining day they can miss before attendance becomes an issue. Any further missed days after that will be added to the end of the academic calendar.

Joseph Pratt can be contacted at Portsmouth Daily Times 740-353-3101 or on Twitter @JosephPratt03