Snow could mean longer school year

Legislature considers more school snow days

Another round of snow storms gummed up the transportation network and led to school closings Wednesday, Jan. 19.

The 2010-2011 school year marked the first year that schools are limited to using three calamity days before they are required to make them up, and after the most recent storm many Clermont County schools have exceeded their limit.

However, that limit could be extended before schools begin making up days. A bill was introduced into the Ohio House of Representatives on Jan. 19 that will extend the number of calamity days to five this school year, and will also allow districts to make up days by extending the school day in half hour increments. The bill has the full support of Governor John Kasich.

“The Governor is very supportive of five days, the number seems reasonable,” Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said. “He wants to see it done this year.”

The reduction to three days was part of former Governor Ted Strickland’s evidence based school funding reform model which expires at the end of June. Without action from the General Assembly to continue the requirement schools would once again have five calamity days beginning next year.

The bill has put every local school districts in a holding pattern as they wait to see whether they will need to make up days or not. All nine districts in the county have exceeded the three day limit. Seven Clermont school districts have used four calamity days district wide, including Batavia Local Schools and Milford Exempted Village Schools.

Bethel-Tate Local School District superintendent Jim Smith said his district will wait until the state decides on the extension.

“We certainly have time to wait,” Smith said. “If we do need to make up days our scheduled make up days are Presidents’ Day, spring break, and April 22, Good Friday.”

Williamsburg Local School District has used four calamity days for the elementary school. The high school has used five including a day in early September after a storm knocked out power to the high school for a day.

“We’re not doing anything until we know the outcome of House Bill 36,” Williamsburg superintendent Jeff Weir said. “The Board (of Education) is expecting it to work through successfully.”

West Clermont Local School District has also used four district wide with an additional day used by Amelia High School and Amelia Middle School when a water main broke. West Clermont Director of Communications Sharon Oakes said the district’s make up days are in the summer so they also have time to wait.

New Richmond Exempted Village Schools will also make up any days necessary at the end of the school year. They have currently used four calamity days.

Felicity Franklin Local Schools have used four calamity days and they have tentatively scheduled a make up day for March 28.

Currently, the only district in the county that will have to make up at least one school day no matter what the state decides is Clermont Northeastern Local Schools. They have used six calamity days so far this year. District superintendent Neil Leist said the district’s narrow country roads make snow a serious issue.

“We always have to err on the side of safety,” CNE Board of Education president Jayne Mummert said.

If HB 36 passes Goshen Local School District will be right on the edge with five days missed.

The first two months of winter have been particularly snowy this season. According to the National Weather Service in Wilmington the Greater Cincinnati area has received 28.4 inches of snow so far. Normal snowfall for December and January is 10.9 inches.

One thing every school administrator in the county can certainly agree on is they have seen enough white flakes flying through the air for quite a while.