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Tuesday, September 23, 2014
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Published: Thursday, 2/15/2007

Talk about a calamity: Future snow days to cost

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

While the Toledo region cleaned up after being hammered by a winter storm, students across the area enjoyed a day of sledding and other outdoor fun.

But for many, yesterday's day off would be the last without payback.

Toledo Public Schools is one of the few districts with a day in reserve.

"We have had four [calamity days], and we have one in the bag," said John Foley, Toledo Public Schools interim superintendent. "I'm hoping that we can keep that one and not use it."

Ohio school districts must reschedule lost days beyond the five permitted for heavy snowfall, fog, or another calamities, such as loss of heat in a building.

Evergreen Local Schools in Fulton County has used seven calamity days so far, including yesterday.

That means the district will need to make up two days, which moves its last day of school to May 25.

If the district would take another calamity day, it will hold school the Tuesday after Memorial Day weekend, Superintendent Ken Jones said.

Elizabeth Bethany, fifth-grade teacher at Toledo Public's Old West End Academy, planned ahead earlier this week for the anticipated snow days.

"I taught for three days on Monday," Ms. Bethany said. "I taught all the stuff I would have taught Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and they did all the work they could do at home so we didn't waste school time."

Springfield Local Schools, like many area districts, reached the five-day mark yesterday, district spokesman Kristina White said.

If the district declares six or more calamity days, the missed days are typically made up at end of the year, Ms. White said.

Oregon City School Superintendent John Hall said his district also has used five days.

"Safety is the number one concern and we know in June it will be nicer than it is now," Mr. Hall said. "If we have to, days are generally tacked on at the end of the year."

Pettisville Local, also in Fulton County, schedules an extra day into its school year, which will allow it to take one more day off before making any up, Superintendent Stephen Switzer said.

Making up days at the end of the school year is not unusual.

Wauseon Exempted Village Superintendent Marc Robinson said last school year was the first in several years that the district was not required to make up calamity days.

In Michigan, public schools must have a total of 1,098 instruction hours for the academic year.

But 30 hours can be used for weather-related closings, or other "conditions not within the control of school authorities [like] storms, fires, epidemics, utility power unavailability, water or sewer failure, or health conditions," according to Michigan Department of Education funding guidelines.

Districts also can gain up to 38 additional hours by counting professional development time for teachers.

"You can wipe up your 30 hours pretty fast, so we don't plan it that we are right exactly at the limit," said Debbie Kuhl, Bedford Public Schools' assistant superintendent for instruction and student services.

Bedford schools already have closed for four full days and one two-hour day, for a total of about 27 hours.

But Ms. Kuhl said the district has by far enough professional development to weather future storms.

Terry Serbin, assistant superintendent of personnel for Monroe Public Schools, said his district has had three full-day closings and one two-hour delay.

Like Ms. Kuhl, he thought the weather would not cut into summer vacation and that school would close as scheduled on June 8.

Staff writers Jane Schmucker and Benjamin Alexander-Bloch contributed to this report.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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