COLUMBUS — Ohio schools will receive four extra calamity days this year under a bill signed Wednesday by Gov. John Kasich under the watchful eye of a group of fifth-grade students.
Mr. Kasich invited the students to the Statehouse for the signing after he received letters in support of the measure from students at Stingel Elementary School in north-central Ohio. The Ontario school has used 10 calamity days this year.
Snow, ice, and harsh temperatures caused many districts across Ohio to exhaust the school year’s five allowable calamity days — most commonly called “snow days,” in which schools can close without making up the lost instructional time.
Many schools canceled classes for nine or more days this year. Toledo Public Schools has missed 13 days.
Brian Murphy, chief of staff for TPS, said that the frequent days missed has made it challenging for districts to prepare for the Ohio Graduation Tests and Ohio Achievement Assessments, because they’d missed so much instruction time.
Among other things, this year’s tests will determine if third-grade students advance a grade or are retained, under the state’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee. The state provides comparisons for district test results, so schools will be able to assess whether those who missed time performed more poorly than schools that weren’t as hard hit by the winter, he said.
Take-home work, called blizzard bags, will be distributed to students next month, and teachers have tried to catch students up.
While many Toledo-area school districts already have calamity-day plans approved by their boards of education, the final element of TPS’ plan must still be negotiated with its staff.
The new law lets districts use the additional calamity days only after holding class on four other scheduled days off, such as holidays or school breaks.
Under the measure, districts can continue to make up missed days through 30-minute increments tacked onto regularly scheduled school days.