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‘Snow days’ bill would give districts more flexibilty

February 1, 2011 - Rob Weaver
Now that most schools have used up their current allotment of calamity days -- what most people refer to as “snow days” -- a pair of forecasts are of interest to teachers and students alike.

One, of course, is the weather forecast. The winter storm warning for tonight and Wednesday doesn’t bode well for classes tomorrow. According to the National Weather Service:

WINTRY PRECIPITATION WILL DEVELOP THIS EVENING AND PERSIST OVERNIGHT. THE PRECIPITATION COULD START AS SNOW...BUT MAINLY FREEZING RAIN AND SLEET IS EXPECTED OVERNIGHT. TEMPERATURES MAY WARM ENOUGH LATE TONIGHT TO CHANGE THE FREEZING RAIN TO RAIN. ICE ACCUMULATIONS OF AROUND A QUARTER INCH CAN BE EXPECTED ALONG WITH AN INCH OR TWO OF SNOW AND SLEET ACCUMULATION.

THE MIXED PRECIPITATION SHOULD TRANSITION BACK TO ALL SNOW ON WEDNESDAY MORNING AS COLDER AIR FILTERS BACK INTO THE AREA. ANOTHER 1 TO 3 INCHES OF SNOWFALL IS EXPECTED ON WEDNESDAY. THE SNOW SHOULD BEGIN TO DIMINISH FROM WEST TO EAST LATE IN THE DAY.

It doesn’t look good for Thursday, either:

GUSTY WINDS WILL ACCOMPANY THE PRECIPITATION. SOME BLOWING AND DRIFTING WILL BE POSSIBLE ON WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON.

Thus, some school districts could miss a fifth day of classes yet this week. Which brings me to the second forecast -- the fate of House Bill 36, which would return Ohio to the days of yore, when school districts were allowed five calamity days each year.

“In the past, the first five calamity days of each school year were excused and school districts made up calamity days beyond the fifth. As a result of an amendment to House Bill 1 during the 128th General Assembly, only three calamity days are now excused beginning in the 2010-2011 school year, and many districts have already used all available calamity days because of recent snow storms,” states a synopsis of the bill. “To resolve this issue, House Bill 36 will restore the number of excusable calamity days to five, which would take effect immediately and allow two additional calamity days for the remainder of the 2010-2011 school year.”

As of today, that bill was in the Ohio House’s Education Committee. How soon that bill might be voted out of committee for a full House vote could be important to school staff and students alike, because there aren’t many potential make-up days left in the school calendar besides Presidents’ Day before the break before Easter. Without quick action, students and staff could lose some holidays, or have days tacked on to the end of the year (typically not the most productive days for learning).

But a key part of House Bill 36 would give school systems the option to make up calamity days by lengthening the school day in 30-minute increments. That flexibility might enable districts to make up lost days without nixing holidays or extending the school year.

That could be important if the weather forecast for tonight and Wednesday is accurate. ...

 
 

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