Schools Waiting For Answers on More Calamity Days

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AKRON, Ohio -- Subzero temperatures early Wednesday left numerous schools across the state closed again, many of them already exceeding the calamity day limit of just five days.

For Akron Public Schools, Wednesday was the seventh calamity day this year. Nearby Copley and Wadsworth schools used their sixth, and until they hear from the state legislature, superintendents are planning on adding days at the end of the year.

Akron Public Schools posted about makeup days on its Facebook page.

State lawmakers are working on getting the districts some help.

Two separate bills introduced on Tuesday, one in the Ohio Senate and one in the Ohio House of Representatives, would give school districts as many as four additional calamity days to use.

The legislative process is just beginning, however. School superintendents have to immediately deal with the conditions and are choosing to err on the side of safety, then deal with the consequences of going over the calamity day limit later.

"One of our factors here is we have students who walk a mile to school; we have students that walk a half mile to the bus stop and so we have to take into account that not everybody is going to be able to catch a bus at their driveway," said Wadsworth Superintendent Andrew Hill.

Copley-Fairlawn Superintendent Brian Poe said he has more than 100 students who still walk to school and others who stand at bus stops.

Poe said he didn't hesitate to use his sixth day.

"It's a tough call but I can tell you this, I will never sacrifice our students safety for the number of days we are using," said Poe adding, "our plan is to extend the end of the school year in June.

Districts might not need to do that if the state legislatures acts to give them additional days, but some superintendents say there is also a challenge now with compressing an entire school year into a shorter schedule.

"We have the state testing that takes place later on in the spring, we have a new teacher evaluation system that is very heavy on timelines that has been put into place this year based on changes on the state level, and so when you don't have school and don't have people here it continues to push those deadlines into a much more compacted time frame," said Hill.

Some teachers are also concerned.

"I as a faculty member can send out, you know, work for my kids to do so we try to keep on track that way, but it's not the same as having 70 minutes in the classroom," said Jim Newman, a humanities teacher at a private school that was also out on Wednesday.

Superintendents say there are a number of factors that go into the decision to close schools, including the impact on parents.

For now they are hoping for a long-term break in the unusually cold winter weather.

"I think the best thing I can ask, that we could ask, is for our communities to continue to be patient and we thank them for their patience as we get through this," said Hill.

(Read more on calamity days.)

10 comments

  • jdinya3

    There shouldnt be a max limit in the first place. Nobody knows what the weather is gonna be in years to come. Dont put our kids safety in jeopardy because of unneccisary nonsense. Get rid of the limits.

  • Nicki Stoneman

    Back in the 70’s we had to walk in all kinds of weather! These kids today need to be in school! This is ridiculous! Why don’t they put pacifiers in their mouth’s!

  • Snowbird

    All schools have 8-10 days of regularly scheduled days off, Spring Break included. I say use days of spring break to make up the extra calamity days. Asking Governor Kasich and the State Legislature only opens the door for future additions. It should be left at 5 and that is final. Yes, this is an extraordinary year. Quit whining and toughen up.

  • JustSaying

    I have no problem with the forgived days for the children, but teachers should be required to report to school, they are adults, I think they can figure out how to dress appropriately for the weather. I believe the law is 175 days minimuim for a Ohio public school teacher to work in a school year. Most schools go more than that but are given 5 calamity days. So four extra days is a 2% raise. 9 days is a 5% raise. Another example of tax payers money being wasted. The four extra days should be without pay. Guess how many people will get a 2% raise this year and many have to earn that putting in showing up to work!

  • Nicoledav95

    Jdinya3-I agree with you! But for the next school year ODE is getting rid of calamity days all together. SMH. To the rest of you- I don’t think we are coddling our kids by keeping them home on days that the weather is not favorable for them to travel to school. It was seriously freezing out!!!! If you sent your kids out to do anything in that weather I am questioning your parental abilities. I had friends the last time the temps dipped down low that got frostbite while pumping GAS!!!!! I just see too many kids who don’t know how to dress properly for the weather. I am in Portage county and kids are still wearing hoodies and no gloves or hats…..and they walk to school!!!!! They are not being taught how to protect themselves so ODE and their local school must do it for them and cancel school. I heard about “snow bags” which is a GREAT idea. (Basically teachers posting work to be done on the school’s website. I love that!!!) It’s borderline homeschooling but the kids are home anyway might as well make them learn something instead of playing Xbox or Playstation all day!!!! IJS

    BTW….I have 2 kids in school and used to work in schools for over 10 yrs. Trust me the teachers love snow days just as much as the kids. Plus the teachers have families as well they need to take care of.

    • lonnie tucker

      Unfortunately we have not discussed testing days; improper weather attire of students; (no finger pointing of parents) Students (teens) walking in sub-windy temperatures.exposures to frost-bit, ( or medical issues. (who will be blamed?) and parents with auto-transportation. Regardless of the number of calamity days on the books; the health welfare and safety of all children and students should be paramount.
      At a later date, out from the Winter-months. We at the local levels in partnership with our County & the State, can figure out how to make-up the extra day that going over allowable limits. Remember; each areas logistically in our State has different calamity issues during this desperate harshest winter. .

  • Stephanie B - Ashland

    I think the children’s safety is more important than the government dictated number of days they are in school. From gas lines jelling to those who walk, the kids need to be safe. When I was young, we were allowed 10 calamity days. So why is it only 5 now? Besides, this is Ohio. They should plan on A LOT of calamity days n if we don’t use them, great. If we need to, they’d already be there. Just saying :)

  • 4ducks

    There should be a limit of calamity days, if the school exceeds them shorten spring break or add them to the end of the year.

  • llj

    many schools dont have bussing for kids, and many schools have to where the kids have to go between buildings for classes, but dont have enough time or are not allowed to wear coats inside the buildings….these are reasons to cancel school on such cold days…some of you who dont have to deal with this need to come out into the country and other cities where kids do deal with it and see how you would like to be a new driver driving in this cold weather, or have to walk a bit outside to get to your next class without having a coat

  • Yaya

    A few words about this. Where I teach, spring break days go first. A lot of families already have plans and tickets and can’t cancel, so those kids aren’t coming. just a couple of minutes of exposure in those temps is dangerous no matter how old you are. As for getting the equivalent of a raise with calamity days, do you count the hours outside of school I spend doing school work toward my total required number of days? I know I’m not the only teacher who does this. And lastly, many teachers haven’t gotten raises in recent years because they have chosen to freeze their pay for the benefit of the schools. But most of that is really beside the point. The kids safety is why schools were closed.

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