August 30, 2014

Elyria
Partly cloudy
70°F
test

UPDATE: Kasich calls for extra calamity days for schools

Kasich

Kasich

ELYRIA — Be it snow or frigid temperatures or utility outages, the number of reasons why local districts have had to cancel classes this year runs the gamut.

Before parents start wondering if it will mean a shorter spring break or longer school year – typical options when districts are faced with the problem of making up missed school days so they can hit the required 180 days of instruction — Gov. John Kasich announced Monday that he would urge the Ohio General Assembly and Ohio Department of Education to work together to provide a one-time increase in the number calamity days allowed in a school year.

Kasich said a few more days are needed because so many schools have used or are close to using their five allowed calamity days due to the unusually severe winter weather.

“School closures can, of course, be an inconvenience but student safety always comes first,” Kasich said. “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.’’

Ohio law allows schools five days a year before they must start adding days to the school year. Kasich enacted legislation in 2011 increasing the number of calamity days from three to five.

This proposed increase would be for the current school year only.

As of Friday, Lorain, Keystone and Columbia schools already had used their five calamity days. Keystone and Columbia were closed again Monday and all three are closed today, so they’ve exceeded the allotment.

“We are now looking at seven calamity days. I can’t recall when we have had so many days in one year,” said Columbia Superintendent Graig Bansek moments after he declared school canceled for today.

Bansek said he would welcome a little reprieve from the state in face of one of the coldest and snowiest Januarys on record.

“This is definitely unusual weather for us and while making up two or three days will mean operating the district for that much longer, I think the biggest inconvenience to an extended year is to our parents,” he said.

Midview Superintendent Scott Goggins said there is no tried and true science to when school is closed in the district. Midview was canceled Monday and with it hit the five-day limit. With today’s closure, the district has exceeded it.

“In the Cleveland area, it’s so hard to say when to cancel, but safety is always the reason why,” Goggins said. “Let’s take Monday and Tuesday for example. Monday school was closed because blowing snow made it dangerous for buses and student drivers. But (today), the wind chill is supposed to be dangerous low and it would not be good for students waiting to catch a school bus.”

When asked if he would hope for a calamity day exception from state leaders, Goggins said it would be appreciated.

“Our parents anticipate the school schedule from what we present at the beginning of the year,” Goggins said. “Vacations and family time is planned around the school calendar and we try to stay as close as possible to that schedule.”

Goggins said there are no emergency days built into the district’s calendar.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.

  • stillsleepyeyes

    Yeah that’s what they need…………..less school time…………..what’s wrong with making it up in the spring or summer……………what about online courses for these calamity days…………………..

    • flyboySR20

      Couldn’t have said it better, stillsleepyeyes.

  • terry

    I am sorry but it just seems this whole country has turned into wuss’s……there was no reason to cancel school today. It’s akin to the politically correct bs that started in this country.

    • Cassie

      Some of these kids have to wait outside for buses in these dangerously cold temps. Add on top of that most of the side streets are poorly plowed which can cause delays in the buses getting to them. As a parent, I wouldn’t want my child out there. I agree with stillsleepyeyes, the schools should look into online makeup classes. I remember there was a district testing it but never heard anything about how it worked out for them.

      • yyy

        In order for online work to be done all students would have to have access to the internet and a device to do that. I would guess there are kids in many of Lorain County’s districts that don’t have that. Bad weather happens in some years and not in others. The schools will accommodate as they always have. If the year were extended there would be salary and budget issues. There’s no good solution.

        • Cassie

          ” I would guess there are kids in many of Lorain County’s districts that don’t have that”

          But some of these same kids find a way to access Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. I suppose.

          For those that don’t have internet access, take home assignments that have to be turned in within a specific time period could work. If the kids don’t get them done, then they could be required to attend summer school (costs go to the parent) to make them up. IMO, this would work out more efficiently than having to extend the year for an entire district and it might help keep some parents on their toes.

        • Pablo Jones

          They say there will be budget issues but will there really be? I believe the teachers contract says they are required to teach for at least X amount of days in the school year minus any sick leave. If school was canceled they weren’t teaching. So if they have to make up the day it won’t cost more for the teachers. The part time workers that are paid hourly would have to be paid, but they weren’t being paid when school was canceled. As for heating and electric costs, they won’t be heating the school in the summer so that isn’t a cost.

          They throw out generalizations but never give any hard numbers. What is the real cost for extending for a day or 2?

      • Pablo Jones

        If you can’t dress your child appropriately for them to be outside drive them to school.

  • John Davidson

    Some schools have special work for at home for days like this. If the students get the assignments done then the days is not counted against them.
    Now the schools did not plan these assignments want extra calamity days. No way. Our kids are so poorly educated already they can’t even make change at a cash register. Extend the school year.

    • yyy

      Extending the school year a few days will not solve core problems in education. That’s like putting a band-aid on the Grand Canyon.

    • Cassie

      “To make up calamity days in excess of five, schools have the option to utilize their contingency plans or use online lessons for up to three days. To utilize the online option, schools must submit a plan to ODE on or before July 31″

      http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Other-Resources/Family-and-Community-Engagement/Online-make-up-of-Excess-Calamity-Days

      So the option is there like you said and many schools did not take advantage of it. Knowing how the weather here can be, why do they not prepare for the worst case scenario?

  • Tommy Peel

    Its a good idea, No one has control over the weather. As a result of the cold and snow, kids have to walk in the street. That can be very dangerous.

  • lfk

    Yeah! Snow day!!

  • flyboySR20

    In this day and age of technology, there is no reason why the children cannot log in and pursue their lessons from home. The reason why schools do not want to pursue that avenue is because the teachers are afraid for their jobs.

  • Beth

    The children should not lose the days they need to learn the material in their grade. Extend the school year instead of cheating the kids.

  • Brian_Reinhardt

    You would think with 25 people in Lorain City Schools that make nearly or over $100,000 a year someone would have thought of a “calamity day” contingency plan. Especially if it’s offered already through the Ohio Department of Education.

  • Pablo Jones

    ” I think the biggest inconvenience to an extended year is to our parents,” No the biggest problem is finding some one to watch the kids when school is canceled or calling off of work.

  • Lord Anoobis

    John Davidson made the following comment:

    “Our kids are so poorly educated already they can’t even make change at a cash register”

    I have to agree with him to a point and wanted to get some other opinions on this subject. I realize it’s a bit off-topic. It does seem to me that there are some rather dumb kids out there. I’m not just talking about what I perceive as a lack of common sense. That’s a whole different issue. I’m talking about what seems to be general, basic knowledge. I don’t think many of these kids bother to watch news or read anything to keep up with what’s going on in the world. Is it just me or does each generation seem dumber than the one (before)?

    Go ahead and ask any of the kids today about general American history or geography. Ask them what’s going on around them. I bet it will shock you. I’m very anxious to get feedback on this.