By Dick Berry - email
(WTOL) - It's never an easy decision for school district superintendents to decide when to cancel classes because of bad weather. Beginning next year in Ohio, they'll be under even more pressure because of the state's newly passed budget.
Ohio school districts now get five calamity days. Beginning with the 2010 school year, the number will be reduced to three.
That means if school is canceled more than three times for snow, fog or other reasons, then students must make up the days.
James Garber, the superintendent of Otsego Local Schools, supports lowering the number. "The research has shown the more time the children are in school, the more they achieve."
Parent Melissa Plessner opposes the change. "There are days when it's rough for me to drive. And when you put a child on the road, you're asking for problems." She adds, "I think they need to take into consideration the children's safety more so than having to add on at the end of the year."
Students aren't fans of the change either. "Ya it's dangerous. You have all these slippery roads. Very foggy out there sometimes," Logan Dauer told us.
Superintendent Garber makes the ultimate call on whether to close his district because of bad weather. He says fewer calamity days won't change how he makes the decision. "I've had days in past districts when we've missed fourteen days, made up nine. If we have to do it, we have to do it."
Reduced calamity days instead of longer school year
Ohio Governor Ted Strickland originally proposed lengthening the school year by 20 days. Educators though complained about the added cost to districts. Instead, the house reduced the calamity days.
Also beginning in 2010, districts must offer all-day kindergarten unless they get a waiver from the state.