By Melanie Yingst
MIAMI COUNTY — Local schools finally resumed classes Wednesday, although the forecast calls for more snow, which may add even more calamity make-up days to the end of the school calendar.
Earlier this week, Ohio Governor John Kasich announced he would seek emergency legislation for local schools to provide additional snow days. According to the Associated Press, Republican state Reps. Tony Burkley and Brian Hill introduced the measure on Monday. Gov. John Kasich has urged adding some extra calamity days on a one-time basis because of this year’s unusually severe weather this week.
Kasich said many schools have exhausted their five allowable days off for snow or bad weather, or soon will. That means districts will have to extend the school year, which he says would “wreak havoc” on school budgets and schedules.
Piqua Board of Education will be discussing weather days during their regular monthly meeting today. According to Superintendent Rick Hanes, Piqua’s calendar provides for 181 days of school, instead of the state-mandated 180 days. This provides one built-in calamity day. The district also has scheduled June 2-6 as make up days.
Troy City Schools Superintendent Eric Herman said a lot of preparation to get school property ready for the school day during the winter can add up in terms of cost.
Herman said maintenance workers often are cleaning parking lots and sidewalks for staff and students well before school is cancelled. Herman used the example of Monday’s calamity day as an example for when maintenance workers earned double time on Sunday to help prepare for the school day.
Herman also said costs such as food for breakfast and lunch is a factor during calamity days.
“Food is an expense that goes with snow days,” Herman said. “We try to make the call early enough for parents to make arrangements and for kids and staff to get to school safely.”
“Clean-up and general snow removal is a cost the district tries to project in its budget,” said Dr. Todd Rappold, superintendent of Miami East Local Schools. “However, winters such as this one are stretching those budgets. Additionally, the extremely cold weather has cause issues with buildings, water lines and school buses this year.”
Herman said Concord Elementary had one water pipe burst before school last week. Maintenance workers had the issue cleaned up and taken care of before school began for students.
Herman said this month, staff has discussed about adding E-days in the future to the district’s plan.
“We’re looking into it,” Herman said Tuesday.
Tipp City Schools’ Superintendent Dr. John Kronour said the district added E-days to its contingency plan after the board passed a resolution on Monday.
According to reports, by Feb. 7, each teacher is to submit lessons for each of their classes that “are equal to or greater than” the amount of time the student would spend in their classroom for the students of Tipp City Schools.
The Miami East Local School district used the its E-day play for the first time since it was implemented three years ago. “E-days” are online assignments and worksheets for K-12 students to complete to avoid making up days at the end of the year. Students have two weeks to complete and turn in the work for credit. Each school may use three E-days a year.
The district used all five of its calamity days, as well as its three E-days this year and will still need to begin to make up days at the end of the year beginning May 29.
According to Rappold, the district had more than 90 percent of its first E-day work completed.
“We are looking into using E-days in the future,” Larson said.”There are some logistics we are considering now.”
Tuesday was the district’s eighth calamity day for Covington. The district will be making up days on Feb. 14 and April 21.
Newton Local School Superintendent Pat McBride said to date, the district isn’t considering using E-days.
“It would take time to organize and plan quality work for students to complete for an E-day, which is something that we haven’t done,” McBride said in an email response.
Making up days throughout the rest of the year or at the end of the school year is easy, but most superintendents agree that making up games and events is not easy.
“Athletics has been a nightmare for our athletic director,” McBride said.”There will most likely be junior high games that are cancelled. The remaining high school games will be difficult to fit in with the season coming to a close.”
Larson said in his five years in the Covington district, they have never used this many calamity days to his knowledge.
All-in-all, Larson said his staff will be busy making up athletic events and rescheduling meetings for its facility project, but said safety is always the district’s main concern.
“Those are minor inconveniences compared to student and staff well-being and safety,” Larson said Tuesday.
“There are many factors that go into a decision to delay or cancel. There are times when it’s this cold that buses won’t run properly or start,” McBride said.
For some parents, planning vacations is difficult when make-up days are clashing with vacations or child care arrangements.
“Although calamity days are included within the calendars a year in advance having to make up days does pose a challenge to parents that make summer arrangements,” Rappold said.