Ohio Lawmakers Debate Giving Schools Additional Calamity Days

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UPDATED: Wednesday January 29, 2014 5:34 PM

With many children at home instead of in the classroom, districts are facing decisions on when, or how, to make up class time.

"We need to make some decisions very soon," said Rep. Brian Hill. "So teachers and families and businesses can all plan for what's coming or not coming."

What's coming could be four more calamity days. That's if Hill's bill is passed and signed by Gov. John Kasich.

Ohio law now only allows schools five calamity days before they must start adding days to the school year.

"It is without a doubt an unprecedented winter we've seen probably in at least 20 years, and we're only half way through it," said Hill.

This cold weather has closed down schools and left many districts wondering how they'll make up class time.

"We're competing with kids in other parts of the world who pretty much go to school year round," said Damon Asbury of the Ohio School Board Association.

Asbury says extending the number of calamity days is just one solution. The main issue, he says, is making sure kids receive enough class time.

"You do want the youngsters in school, and you want that instructional time," said Asbury. "You don't want that to be missed."

According to Asbury, there are other possible solutions, besides calamity days, to make up class time for districts.

First, they could eliminate the Presidents Day holiday, and all In-Service days for teachers. They could add an extra hour of class time each day. They could also eliminate Spring Break week, or even push back the calendar school year.

"It's just been a bad year," said Rep Tony Burkley, a co-sponsor of the bill. "We can't adjust that. Mother Nature is going to do what she's going to do so we need to go from there."

The calamity days bill is being fast-tracked through both the Ohio House and Senate.

Lawmakers could vote on the bill the week of February 10.

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