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Last updated: March 26. 2014 2:06PM - 240 Views
By Lenny C. Lepola newsguy@ee.net



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It’s been a rough winter in more ways than one. Central Ohio residents, in fact residents statewide, have not only had to adjust to one of the coldest winters in decades, school districts have used up all of their calamity days — and some. Many districts with students living in rural areas have used up to a dozen calamity days; and several news report notes that Waverly City Schools in Pike County had used 19 calamity days.


The State of Ohio allows five calamity days. Because of the unusual winter weather Ohio legislators recently approved House Bill 416 that allows Ohio school districts an additional four calamity days, with a caveat — school districts must first make up four additional days using their own contingency days before the additional state approved four days kick in.


During last Thursday (March 13) evening’s Big Walnut Local School District Board of Education meeting, District Superintendent Steve Mazzi said House Bill 416, that had bounced around from committee to house to senate since January, would provide no relief for Big Walnut.


“We’re at seven calamity days now, the state allows five,” Mazzi said. “The state said we have to make up our calamity days by using our own days first.”


Mazzi said if no additional calamity days are needed between now and the end of the school year, the District could extend the school year by two days and hold sessions on Thursday, May 29, and Friday, May 30, with seniors waived.


“We could look at holding school on April 18, that’s a day off,” Mazzi said. “If we did go in that direction we would message the community and work with the associations.”


Using April 18 as a make-up day would still leave one day additional day over that state allotted five days.


Board president Allison Fagan asked about lengthening school days between now and the end of the school year.


“A full day of instruction is 5.5 hours of school time at the high school and middle school, and 6.5 hours for a full day at the intermediate school and elementary buildings,” Mazzi said.


One website notes that a day of instruction could be made up by adding 30 minutes to each school day for 11 days; Mazzi said that could be disruptive to families and private day care programs. It would also require approval from the District’s union leadership and members.


Board member Nicci Hess asked if Blizzard Bags were retroactive and could help make up a day or two.


Blizzard Bags are online academic assignments in lieu of attending school. Waverly used them. To see what a Blizzard Bag is like go to < waverly.k12.oh.us > and click on Blizzard Bag #1.


Mazzi has said in the past he does not believe Blizzard Bags have substantial academic content that makes up for time lost in the classroom; that District administrators would prefer to avoid that option.


“Blizzard Bags are filler work, they’re busy work,” Mazzi said. “They also require Board action, and are typically approved at the start of the school year to be used if they’re needed.”


While no Board action was taken last Thursday evening, Big Walnut students, parents, faculty and staff will see an adjusted schedule before the end of the school year. That adjustment might include school on April 18 for all students, school on May 29 and/or 30 with seniors exempt, or time added to each school day until the two excess calamity days are made up.


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