The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

March 28, 2014

Ashtabula students to have longer school days and more homework

By SHELLEY TERRY - sterry@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

ASHTABULA — The Ashtabula Area City Schools Board of Education decided Thursday to make up calamity days by adding a half an hour to each school day from April 7 to June 5, as well as giving secondary students extra homework.

The school day will begin 15 minutes earlier and end 15 minutes later to make up lost instruction time. Treasurer Jackie Miranda said adding make-up minutes will not incur much cost to the district — only slightly extending a cafeteria worker’s time to serve breakfast and a paraprofessional time from four hours to six and a half.

Ashtabula students missed 13 days of school so far this year for snow and bitter cold weather. The state allows nine days, meaning the district has to come up with a way to make up four days.

The additional 30 minutes a day will fulfill four calamity days for grades K-6 and three calamity days for grades 7-12, Superintendent Patrick Colucci said.

“As the state rolled out its options, we had discussions,” he said. “We believe this option best utilizes the time rather than making it up in the summer.”

The board also authorized “blizzard bags,” which are paper copies of lessons, to be given to all secondary students today. These special homework bags will cover the fourth make-up day for secondary students.

Teachers have prepared homework equal to what would have been covered in one day of class, Colucci said.

Students are to return the bags, with homework completed, within two weeks. If the student does not return the bag with the work complete, he or she will receive a failing grade.

A letter will be sent home to parents explaining the make-up plan.

Although he is hoping winter’s wrath is over, Colucci said he may set another blizzard bag day, if more make-up days are needed before the end of the school year.

“I’m not counting my chickens before they hatch,” he said. “We have had blizzards in April.”