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Published: Wednesday, 2/19/2014 - Updated: 8 months ago

Ohio House votes to give schools more calamity days

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF

COLUMBUS — The Ohio House today voted overwhelmingly to give schools a little more breathing room by writing off four days lost to snow, ice, and sub-zero temperatures for students but only two for teachers.

The bill now goes to the Senate.

The House voted 80-16 across party lines to forgive up to seven “calamity” school days.

As originally proposed, the bill would have forgiven four days for both students and teachers. It would now count two scheduled teacher professional development days toward that four.

“As of Feb. 7 — and a lot has happened since Feb. 7 — approximately one-third of the state’s school districts had already used five of their calamity days, and many of my (northwest Ohio) districts have included in excess of 10,” said Mr. Burkley.

A dispute among Republicans over how many, if any, days should be forgiven prompted the chamber to delay the vote by one week. In the days since, many schools have had to cancel even more classes.

Some lawmakers were still not happy with the move even after the delay and the changes made.

“They’ve had opportunities to make up some of these days,” said Rep. Michael Henne (R., Clayton), a “no” vote. “We had President’s Day at the beginning of the week. How many of my district's schools used that opportunity to make up days. None…In business, rarely do we shut down doors, but when we do, we work twice as hard (to make up for it).

“It’s time for us to get our priorities in order,” he said. “We still have plenty of days where they can make up these days. They can use some Saturdays. They can use these extra half hours. We have spring break “

The bill also gives schools the authority to expand school days in half-hour increments to make up some of the time.

The bill gives the same day forgiveness break to charter schools, even though they measure their school days in hours rather than days. Beginning next year, all public school days will be measured in hours.

The bill also expands by one week the upcoming period for the completion of scheduled achievement tests as a result of the lost days

Toledo Public Schools’ contract with teachers includes an uncommon provision requiring them to be paid for each day tacked on to the school year. That could mean about a week's worth of unbudgeted payroll if the state does not forgive the days lost.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.



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