The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

February 20, 2014

Ohio House OKs 4 more calamity days due to weather

COLUMBUS — Schools would receive up to four additional days off this year because of the winter season’s extreme weather with teachers having to report on two of those, under a bill approved by the Ohio House on Wednesday.

Snow and frigid temperatures has led many districts across Ohio to exhaust their five allowable calamity days. Some have cancelled classes for 10 or more days.

One in three Ohio school districts have already used up their five calamity days, said bill sponsor Rep. Tony Burkley, a Republican from Payne in northwest Ohio. Co-sponsor Rep. Brian Hill, a Republican from Zanesville, some said schools in his eastern Ohio district have missed as many as 17 days to date.

“Concern about calamity days should never outweigh the safety of our children,” Hill said.

The House approved the bill 80-16. It goes next to the Senate.

Gov. John Kasich has been among those advocating adding extra snow days on a one-time basis this year.

Opponents said schools aren’t doing enough to make up the lost days on the weekends or through longer school days.

Rep. Michael Henne said giving children more days off will cause them to fall behind academically.

“It’s time for us to get our priorities in order,” said Henne, a Republican from Clayton in southwest Ohio. “We still have plenty of days where they can make up these days.”

Schools can also make up three days by using “blizzard bags,” lesson plans and materials prepared ahead of time for work at home in case of bad weather.

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