School administrators across Wood County will have to decide how to juggle the rest of the school calendar after the Ohio Legislature granted four more calamity days, but with a caveat.
|File photo. A student walks home from school during a winter storm. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Districts can use the additional four days only after holding school on four other scheduled days off, such as on holidays, during vacations or by using "blizzard bags."
All schools in Wood County have missed at least 11 days, several as many as 17.
The governor is expected to sign the legislation today.
"It's certainly been unprecedented in my 10 years as a superintendent," said Jim Witt of the Lake School District.
The state, before Wednesday, allowed five calamity days.
All county schools were closed Wednesday and again today.
At Northwood, which has missed 15 days, plans are to make up three days with "blizzard bags," make a waiver day set for March 31 a school day, then add two days to the end of the school year.
As Superintendent Greg Clark explained, 15 days minus the five allowed equals 10 days. As dictated by the state, the district will make up four days ("blizzard bags" and March 31), which takes the total to six. By using the four now allowed by the state, that leaves just two more day to make up.
"But we have the rest of March and the rest of the year to get through," Clark said.
Elmwood, which also has missed 15 days, will pass out three "blizzard bags" and use the last day of spring break, also leaving students going to school two extra days in June.
"We're better than most," said Superintendent Tony Borton about the number of school days missed as of Wednesday.
The school's eighth-graders, which were supposed to leave Wednesday for Washington, D.C., got an earlier start and missed the storm, Borton said.
Eastwood and Otsego have already sent "blizzard bags" home with students.
Up to three "bags" can be used this year.
Both districts have missed 17 days and both also made up a day by going to school Presidents' Day.
For Eastwood, that means four days will be added to the end of the school year. Seventeen days minus five allowed equals 12. Make up four days, which they've done, takes the total to eight. Get four more from the state equals four days at the end of the year, taking the school year to June 5.
Otsego Superintendent Adam Koch said that, though the district has missed 17 days as of today, with the four extra days coming from the state they will only have to make up two days at the end of the year.
"We've already made up six days," he explained. "We changed our calendar last month and did Presidents' Day, we moved a professional development day and we're going to school the day after Easter" and three days were made up with "blizzard bags" - a collection of assignments for students to do to make up missed classwork.
With the five calamity days allowed by the state, that makes a total of 15 days Otsego has made up.
"Basically, today will add a day on the end," said Koch said Wednesday.
"Any other changes will be made up at the end of the year. We've done all we can do in regard to changing the calendar."
Wednesday's legislation also allows districts to continue to make up missed days through 30-minute increments tacked onto regularly scheduled school days.
Bowling Green has talked about "blizzard bags," but would prefer not to use them, saying it's better to have students in the classroom.
That leaves adding time to the school day.
The district also has missed 17 days.
Superintendent Ann McVey has indicated the district will probably use the five contingency days added to the calendar and go to June 6 and make up the lost time by adding the 30 minutes to the school day.
However, she is not ruling out the option of using Good Friday, April 18, or by adding "blizzard bags."
"Desperate times call for desperate measures," McVey said this morning. "Everything is on the table."
If the district decides to extend the school day, it might use up to 48 days depending on what is decided with Good Friday and "blizzard bags."
"We can make up one day for every 12 days that we extend the day by 30 minutes," she wrote.
Bowling Green will not take days from spring break.
In North Baltimore, which has missed 13 days, three "blizzard bags" are planned, so with the addition days allowed, the district will only have to make up two days at the end of the year, according to Superintendent Marlene North.
"The state has changed its mind so many times I hope they put out a really good explanation," she stated.
Perrysburg has canceled 12 days of school, and Superintendent Tom Hosler said he will look to the bill for guidance in determining how to best make-up some of those days.
"We've been waiting on the legislature to come up with a plan before we wade into it," Hosler said. Now that it's approved, "that gives us a clear picture to see what our options are."
Hosler said he'll consider a mixed solution of having school on a teacher work day, sending home "blizzard bags" and extending the school year, though not so much as to affect family plans for summer vacation.
"This is a unique year," he said. "I think we will begin to look at what we can do to try to end the year during the same week that we originally had scheduled."
A teacher work day scheduled May 23 could become a school day, and Perrysburg may also amend the calendar to add an extra day June 6, Hosler said.
"We're not interested in disturbing Memorial Day weekend or spring break," he said. "We know families have long range plans around those events."
For Rossford, which has missed the fewest days at 11, the district will add five days to the end of the school year, taking students to June 6, and then will have two extra days forgiven, according to Superintendent Dan Creps.
The Lake Board of Education will vote at its March 19 meeting to take days away from spring break to help make up for 15 missed school days.
Witt said the board will consider making April 14, 15, 16 and 17 school days. School would be closed on April 18, which is Good Friday, and the Monday after Easter, April 21.
He said he realizes some students and staff have made spring break plans.
"We took that into consideration and we know that we're gong to have some families that have made plans and have travel itineraries," Witt said. "We're being flexible with everyone."
The Lake school calendar would be extended from May 28 to May 30 to make up missed days as of Wednesday.
Graduation dates for all schools will remain unchanged and may excuse graduating seniors for any makeup days that occur after commencement ceremonies.