School districts still wait for more calamity days

COLUMBUS -- It's now up to the Ohio Senate to vote on whether school districts will get extra calamity days.

The House of Representatives voted to extend the days from five to nine and give teachers two additional in-service days.

But the Senate wants districts to use makeup days first and then apply for the additional calamity days.

The confusion has districts watching lawmakers closely.

The unusually brutal winter has forced superintendent Doug DeLong to make some agonizing decisions.

Between extreme temps and lots of snow, Superintendent DeLong closed Berkshire Schools in Geauga County eight times already this year.

"We have nothing left right now. It's been such an unusual winter to use eight calamity days, it really has," said Delong.

Districts throughout Ohio get five calamity days a year.

After that, districts can extend the year, extend the school-day hours, hold class on Saturdays and use 'blizzard bags,' which are pre-produced packets of homework.

Berkshire used three blizzard bags, which means that they have broken even on their calamity days.

But if they cancel school in the future, they will have to add the days to the end of the school year, which can cost the district a lot of money.

"Most teachers are paid throughout the year but it is an extra day of work so yeah, it will hit us in the budget."

Superintendent DeLong is watching lawmakers closely as they vote on the bill.

He says they need to know as soon as possible so they know how to plan the end of the school year.

"We need to know whether or not, a week from now, two weeks from now if the weather turns nasty again whether or not we have that extra day. If we don't we go with what we did a year ago when we tacked them on at the end of the school year."

Both the House and Senate need to agree on a plan before passing it onto the governor for approval.


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