By Marc Kovac
School districts would be allowed to claim five snow days during the current school year, instead of the three allowed by current law, under legislation being considered by state lawmakers.
House Bill 36, which had its first hearing in the chamber’s education committee Wednesday night, also would allow districts to make up calamity days by lengthening school days in half-hour increments.
“We have been hit with quite a bit of bad winter weather recently,” said Rep. John Carey, a Republican from Wellston and a bill co-sponsor. “We should not be putting Ohio’s children at risk by forcing them to travel in dangerous conditions.”
As part of the education-reform package passed under Gov. Ted Strickland, the number of days schools are allowed to close due to adverse weather without making them up at the end of the year was reduced this year to three from five.
The change was put into effect for the 2010-11 school year only; absent lawmaker action, districts would return to five calamity days in 2011-12.
But winter weather in December and again this week has prompted many schools to close for more than the three days allowed.
Rep. Casey Kozlowski, a Republican from Ashtabula County and bill co-sponsor, said all the schools in his district have used more than three snow days so far this school year. One is already up to six. Another, in Carey’s Appalachian district, has used 11.
“With Ohio’s ever changing weather and thousands of miles of rural routes, the decision to hold classes during the winter is a judgment call better made by our local superintendents and transportation directors on a daily basis,” Kozlowski said.
Gov. John Kasich supports the legislation.