Many school districts throughout the state have either used up all of their snow days or are in danger of running out of those calamity days.
Governor Kasich wants state lawmakers to pass legislation to allow schools to use more snow days this year before the state would require districts to make up lost days on Saturdays, over spring break or at the end of the school year.
There are a few proposals that have been introduced to do that. The one that’s getting a hearing first in an Ohio house committee is sponsored, in part, by Republican Representative Tony Burkley of Northwest Ohio. In an interview with Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles for StateImpact Ohio, Burkley explains how the bill will increase the calamity days by four to a total of nine.
Q: Now does it add any kind of provision for next year or anything new other than increasing the calamity days?
A: “No. Next year, actually, this won’t become an issue because we’ve transitioned from days to hours and next year it will be in hours. One of the things that you want to keep in mind when we increase these calamity days, especially the school districts in my house district, many of them would have exceeded with the hours many times more than the days were are increasing. So as far as instructional time that the students spend in class, it would be well beyond what the state is going to mandate for next year.”
Q: And we know some school districts, for right now, are using the blizzard bags that the Ohio Department of Education allows which is a combination of online and pen and pad work that students can use. And that compensates or makes up for a snow day in the eyes of state law. Will that continue to be an option under your bill and the new system?
A: “To my knowledge, that would not change. They can still do the blizzard bags. I think there’s a total of three they can do. Some school districts have taken advantage of that but others have not, mainly because, I’m not sure why some have not other than technology may be an issue in some of those districts where it’s not as easy to do as in some other districts.”
Q: I’m hearing a lot of lawmakers on both the Republican and Democratic sides of the aisle, saying they want to extend the calamity days. Do you think you will have widespread support for your bill?
A: “I think so. This seems to be a winter that has been pretty impactful throughout the state and there are a lot of school districts that are well beyond their maximum of five days so there seems to be a lot of interest throughout the state.”