Gov. John Kasich is calling on Ohio lawmakers to give the state’s schools extra snow days this year.
In an interview with Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles for StateImpact Ohio, John Charlton at the Ohio Department of Education explains the Governor thinks many schools are going to exhaust the five calamity days now currently allowed by law.
“The Department of Education will work with the state legislature to help find a solution that will both ensure the continued safety of the students as well as make sure they have the number of days they need to get the appropriate education,” Charlton said. “And also hopefully provide some relief to the districts that have experienced a large number of calamity days.”
Q: Are there a lot of schools that are out of calamity days or are in danger of being out of them?
A: “The Department of Education does not track the number of calamity days that districts take. However, I think with the polar vortex that’s coming through right now, I think we can—anecdotally we’ve heard that a lot of districts have taken several days off, a lot of have taken their complete five calamity days.”
Q: Gov. Kasich says he’s making this one-time effort to expand the calamity days for this year. He’s making this a one-time thing because he thinks that there are extenuating conditions this year due to safety. Tell me about that.
A:“The No. 1 priority is making sure the students are safe. And we don’t want school districts feeling like they have to get the kids to schools, putting them in unsafe environments or unsafe conditions on roadways, on school buses. We want to make sure their safety is the first thing thought of. So I think that what Gov. Kasich is trying to do is to make sure that we are giving the superintendents, the decision makers at the local school districts the ability to say ‘You know what, it’s okay to take more than five days off. We can either make them up or we’ll find a solution that’s going to fit our needs and make sure that we still get the appropriate education for the students yet at the same time, we’re not sacrificing their safety.
Charlton added that school districts already have an option to allow students to make up missed days via the internet or bookbag work. About a fifth of Ohio’s districts have applied to use that option. Governor Kasich’s proposed increased would be for the current school year only. Two Republican house members are introducing a plan that would allow four extra calamity days this year.