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Gov. Kasich seeks additional snow days



Published: Tue, January 28, 2014 @ 12:15 a.m.

Gov. Kasich is asking state lawmakers to increase the number of calamity days for this school year

photo

Norm Capp of Youngstown, bundled up as he braves the conditions Monday, uses a snowblower to clear a friend’s driveway on Chaney Circle in Youngstown. Today’s high temperature is expected to be 2 degrees with wind chills as low as 28 below zero.

Staff report

Columbus

Just as some Mahoning Valley school districts have reached or exceeded the allotted number of calamity days this year, Gov. John Kasich is asking legislators for a one-time increase because of this winter’s frigid and snowy conditions.

Ohio law allows schools to close for up to five calamity days this year for snow or other emergencies before having to make up those days.

With successive days earlier this month of single-digit temperatures and subzero wind chills, some districts have reached or exceeded that number. With many schools closing today because of low temperatures, others may find themselves in similar situations soon.

Today marks the sixth day Youngstown schools have been closed this year because of bad weather.

Superintendent Connie Hathorn said the district hasn’t decided how days beyond the allotted five will be made up.

“We could extend the school day, extend the school year,” he said.

Hathorn said he would have to talk to both the school board and the teachers union to determine the course of action.

He said he worries about the lost instructional time. Both the Ohio Achievement Assessment and Ohio Graduation Test are coming up within the next couple of months.

“Each day we lose, we lose instructional time with students,” Hathorn said.

ELSEWHERE

Warren Superintendent Michael Notar notified the Ohio Department of Education on Monday that its school board and a teachers representative have approved a plan that would prevent the school district from having to make up more than two snow days this year. The district has used eight days this year.

The board approved a policy that involves giving students assign-ments for each of their missed classes the day after they return from a calamity day. The alternate policy can be used to make up as many as three snow days.

Each student will have two weeks to complete the assignments, which must be relevant to the common-core areas taught in each class.

Warren has used more calamity days than most other districts because of the number of students who walk to school or walk to a bus stop.

“We have close to 1,000 students who walk,” Notar said. “Even our bus stops are common bus stops. They have to walk — not far — but they have to walk to a bus stop.”

Many Trumbull County school districts operated on a two-hour delay one time last week, but that isn’t a good option in Warren either because of the number of students who would be unsupervised for those two hours, Notar added.

But Kasich’s plan could change that.

“School closures can, of course, be an inconvenience, but student safety always comes first,” the governor said in a statement Monday. “Many schools have already hit the maximum number of snow days, or will soon, and if they exceed it and have to extend the school year it can wreak havoc with schools’ budgets and schedules.”

John Charlton, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Education, said state law requires districts to be in session a minimum of 175 days. Districts schedule their school years with more days so that they can meet that minimum even if they have to close schools for weather or other emergency situations.

School has been canceled three times in Liberty this year because of weather. The district implemented two-hour delays on four occasions because of the weather, said Superintendent Stan Watson.

The district has a contingency plan if it exceeds the number of permitted calamity days.

“We have days scheduled at the end of the year for makeup days. Everybody does that,” Watson said. “That becomes a little bit problematic at times because people have plans.”

Seniors want to get out of school and start their jobs or move forward with college plans. There’s also the possibility of using other days, such as during spring break or one scheduled for professional development, as makeup days for those missed, Watson said.

Today is the fifth closing for Poland schools. Superintendent David Janofa said the district will make up any days at the end of the school year.

Canfield has closed school only three times this year because of weather, using two-hour delays instead.

If the district exceeds the number of allotted days, the district will deal with it, said Superintendent Alex Geordan.

“We value each and every day in the classroom, but student and staff safety come first,” he said.

Canfield has five days at the end of the school year designated to make up days if needed. It’s also possible to use days earlier in the year, such as spring break.

Because families likely have made plans for that week, attendance may be low. Attendance could be hard hit at the end of the school year, too, as people also have plans, he said.

Today is the third day that Boardman schools have been closed because of bad weather, and if the district goes beyond what’s allowed in the law, the days will be made up at the end of the school year, said Superintendent Frank Lazzeri.

Lazzeri said he doesn’t buy into the blizzard bags, the assignments given to students to make up for missed days.

“I think teachers are a precious resource, and they cannot be matched by makeup work,” he said.


Comments

1JS(460 comments)posted 2 months, 3 weeks ago

-FACT OR FICTION-

STATE OF THE UNION MESSAGE

My fellow Americans. As you know global warming has been defeated and the North Pole has

been saved. Winter sports can now be enjoyed in most of the states many months of the year.

This has been accomplished by a heroic mission of dispersing aluminum flake in orbit over

the North Pole to shield it from the harmful rays of the sun. The efforts of our space

program have paid off. Summer temperatures will now be cool, comfortable and springlike with

an occasional snowstorm. Until more greenhouses are built to grow food we will be importing

food from Kenya under a mutual aid pact. Tourists coming here for winter sports will be our

main industry.

Suggest removal:

2JoeFromHubbard(875 comments)posted 2 months, 3 weeks ago

@JS:

I wouldn't be a bit surprised to hear Obama make a similarly silly comment about "global warming" in his state of the union babble tonight.

Suggest removal:

3Forejjg(19 comments)posted 2 months, 3 weeks ago

While I understand that it is rare to have such low temperatures for such extended periods, my question is why do the schools need to close? Are the schools incapable of providing the necessary heat to keep the children warm? Or, is it the lack of a contingency plan to get the children to the schools in cold weather. I am not trying to be insensitive, but if the children in North Dakota did not go to school because of cold temps, they would be out of school most of December through February. It's not like we live in Alabama; it is Ohio and we do have winter.

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4AnotherAverageCitizen(1172 comments)posted 2 months, 3 weeks ago

At least this idea is coming from a Repub Gov, because if a Dem had this idea all heck would break loose.

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5NilesOhio(641 comments)posted 2 months, 3 weeks ago

@Forejjg - Schools have cut back on transportation in an effort to save costs, so more children are walking to school than before. When the temperatures and/or wind chills go down to a point that it's dangerous to be outside for more than a few minutes, the schools wisely close to prevent harm to the children (and possible lawsuits.)

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6NilesOhio(641 comments)posted 2 months, 3 weeks ago

I really don't see what the big deal is in making these days up by extending the school year. That's what we always did when I was in school and while I wanted my summer break to start ASAP, it was a given if school was canceled more than 5 days such as the 1977-1978 blizzard.

Just leave the laws alone and let things work the way they were intended.

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7walter_sobchak(1750 comments)posted 2 months, 3 weeks ago

While I can understand closing the schools on a bitterly cold and windy day like today, we are calling off school way too often. Bundle the kids up and send them off. They will survive. Just leave the number of calamity days alone. I say, if you want to stop having superintendents calling school off for the most minimal weather upset, reschedule the off day to the Saturday of the following week. The teacher complaints about giving up their Saturday will be heard loud and clear.

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8YtownParent(250 comments)posted 2 months, 3 weeks ago

If there is a weather advisory issued parents don't have to send their kids and enough don't to make it pointless to have class. Our kids spent most of days they were in watching Disney movies because there were only a handful of kids in each class.

I don't think they should add to the amount of calamity days though. Make them up at the end of the school year or on Saturday, but that won't happen because too many parents & teachers will complain about it conflicting with their plans. They'd be better off in the long run to move to a year round school year and take two shorter breaks during August & January.

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9rickking123(247 comments)posted 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Or we can just stop with all the sky is falling weather alerts that get issued all the time now to scare everyone senseless. School was cancelled on Monday for some districts for no good reason.

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10NilesOhio(641 comments)posted 2 months, 3 weeks ago

@Rick - I was thinking the same thing. It does have a distinct Chicken Little feel to it.

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11dhtj(32 comments)posted 2 months, 3 weeks ago

I have been out of school for 45 yrs. When I was in school from grades 1 thru 12, I had 1 (ONE) day called off because of bad weather. SO, What has changed?? It definitely is not the weather.

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12JoeFromHubbard(875 comments)posted 2 months, 3 weeks ago

@ dhtj :

It's definitely not the weather...it's today's wimpy, feel good, don't offend, not my fault, not in my back yard society.

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132muchtax(239 comments)posted 2 months, 3 weeks ago

The schools have heat just like the day care centers most people have to take the kids to, because they must goto work whether its cold or not! 5 is more than enough days off! Let parents decide whether its too cold for thier kids to goto school not some superintendent.

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14dontbeafool(786 comments)posted 2 months, 3 weeks ago

I knew when I seen this article had 16 comments, half of them would be "I had to walk to school 5 miles in 3 feet of snow, uphill both ways." Schools have to have so many school days in a year. Let them determine when to have those days. If they have to shorten a holiday break or school season, then so be it. Some winters are unusually bad, like this one. I think it was last year they didn't use one calamity day! All it takes is one kid to get frostbite on a negative 10 degree day, and then the same people will be calling for the school administrations heads.

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15rickking123(247 comments)posted 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Don't worry next year it will be changed to total school hours and not school days and add blizzard bags to the mix. Extend the school day, feed them dinner too and call it a day because God forbid if a kid has to go outside when the temperature is below 32 degrees.

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16dontbeafool(786 comments)posted 2 months, 3 weeks ago

My kids are already doing the blizzard bags!

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