By Frank Lewis
If you’re looking for one more way to put the frigid temperatures into perspective, Mike Staggs, superintendent of New Boston Schools says it is the first time in 29 years that he has ever gone over the alotted missed days — but that is what he is facing going into the weekend, and with impending weather problems possibly in store next week.
“In nine years as superintendent, I have never been over,” Staggs said. “But we’re over six days now. When I was teaching, and when I was principal, we never went over.”
Staggs has a tentative plan to make up the necessary days.
“ODE (Ohio Department of Education) allows you to make up three online, and we’re going to apply for that,” Staggs said. “Grades 4 through 12 have iPad’s. So we can actually give them lessons that they have to do outside of school. So we’ll give them three days worth of lessons to do outside of school.”
Staggs said it is not his policy to look to the next week as to whether the school will close or not, but that he expects to be back in session Monday, with question marks surrounding Tuesday and Wednesday as he looks at the long range forecast which now calls for minus 15 degrees conditions.
“If we do get permission from ODE, but we miss Tuesday and Wednesday, that takes up all of our days again,” he said. “Anything beyond that would be, make up on Presidents Day and then the end of school.”
He said it could get confusing at the end of the year because graduation is already scheduled and a speaker has already scheduled time away from their job to speak at that event, “and you can’t graduate more than three days before school is out,” Staggs said. “The families have vacations scheduled and reservations; and then they can only miss so many days of school, excused or unexcused, or they don’t get credit for the entire year.”
Staggs told the Daily Times the reason he has closed schools in recent days is that the system does not bus high school students, and some of them live as far away from the school as the Portsmouth city limits, and he said he will not risk those students being exposed to the sub-freezing elements.
“We’ve met five days. Everything else we’ve got to make up,” Scott Dutey, Superintendent of Portsmouth City Schools, said Friday. “We’ve been out five days, so from here on out every day that we’re out we’ll have to make up in some manner.”
Dutey said, as the system sets its calender for the year, they establish that if they do go over, they make those days up at the end of the year.
“This year we’ve got a couple at waiver days granted by the state still to come,” Dutey said. “And its possible we could take one or two of those as make up days if necessary, or we’ll wait ‘til the end of the year and just come back and make them up.”
Valley Local Schools Superintendent Carl McCrory is looking at the same scenarios as many of the other schools.
“We’re two days over and like all districts the safety of kids is our number one priority,” McCrory said. “The thing that can make it challenging sometimes is the back roads and the buses. A lot of times your main roads can be fine but you can’t get your buses over these peaks and these hollows. It creates a challenge, but the number one goal is the safety of your kids, and you decide to err on the side of caution.”
McCrory says Valley’s first make up day is President’s Day and the next day is Spring Break.
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 252, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.