Let It Snow
‘Snow Day’ worries will melt away next year

Snow days Cunningham

Maggie Cunningham

M. Cunningham

With this week’s frigid temperatures forcing nearly every school district in the Tri-state to close yet again, most schools are already facing make-up days in June.

As explained by Ohio Gov. John Kasich in recent reports, this extension of the school year can cause problems not only for families, but for school budgets. Kasich has proposed adding more calamity days in order to account for the unusually bad weather we’ve had so far – with more likely to come before spring.

The Ohio legislature is expected to rule on the proposal this week.

Meanwhile, for many school districts like Kings, this could be the last year they will have to worry about “make-up” days. A new statewide policy is dropping the typical “5 allowed calamity days” and permitting schools to instead meet a minimum number of “instructional hours.” Here is the breakdown of minimum required instructional hours for certain grade ranges:

-Kindergarten through 6th grade: 910 hours
-7th grade through 12th grade: 1,001 hours

The good news for Kings Local is that Kings kids are in school an extra hour than the minimum requirement everyday. This excludes Wednesdays, when Kings has “early release” for teacher professional development.

Add up all these extra hours over the course of a year, and Kings will have a “cushion” of about 20 school days next year. Two-hour delays also chip away at this cushion, but it’s unlikely Kings would ever again use up all of its calamity hours if the new state policy stays in place.

Kings Superintendent Valerie Browning said she is pleased with the new policy because it relieves some of the pressure of snow day decisions. School officials can often find their decisions to delay or cancel school – or NOT to delay or cancel school – second-guessed. Browning said her decisions are always based on one thing: safety.

Browning

Browning

“Snow days are for the student’s academics, but the safety of the students is most important, so hopefully with this new policy the strain of academic losses would be lifted,” she said.

The process of deciding a snow day or delay is based on weather, road and facility conditions. Browning says she keeps in contact with neighboring schools and compares conditions.

“By 4 a.m. the transportation supervisor, his assistance and myself go and drive the roads in the district and check the conditions. The business manager calls the maintenance of the schools to check on the condition of the parking lots to determine if the school needs to have a delay or snow day,” said Browning

Most students look forward to snow days in winter, but when summer approaches the calamity days can put a damper on early-summer family plans.

Another idea some school districts have implemented are Blizzard Bags. If school is canceled, teachers send home work for students to complete, due within a week to two weeks. That day would not count as a snow day for the district. Sycamore Schools in Blue Ash this week used their first Blizzard Bag option, so they remain on 5 spent calamity days where other districts used their sixth and will have to make it up in June.

Kings has also used 6 snow days, so will have to make up one unless the state legislature grants an extension. Kings officials are considering Blizzard Bags, but the school board had not taken a vote as of this publication.

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