What a calamity

Schools sort out mess as another storm approaches.
Alissa Widman Neese
Feb 4, 2014

 

An onslaught of winter weather is poised to pummel the region again, and school officials statewide are left hanging in a state of limbo.

Because of brutal weather and below-freezing temperatures throughout most of January, almost every area district has exhausted its five permitted calamity days — and then some. After five cancellations, districts are required to make up the missed time.

Their calendars are now at the mercy of state legislators, who are expected to vote as early as Feb. 12 on a plan to grant districts four more free cancellations this year.

Until then, educators know at least one thing for certain: It’s not over yet.

The area will be under a winter storm warning from 7 p.m. today until 5 p.m. Wednesday, with snow accumulation ranging from 6 to 10 inches. Low visibility, high winds and poor driving conditions mean many area districts will likely cancel classes again Wednesday.

All districts have plans in place to make up for lost time, but even those have uncertainties.

Most recently, Sandusky Schools announced this past week it will host classes Thursday instead of an initially planned in-service day. In a press release, the district said the day will not count as a makeup day because of restrictions Ohio Department of Education representatives communicated to school officials earlier in the week.

After the Register contacted the department on Monday, however, spokesman John Charlton confirmed there are no such rules.

Locally, for example, Bellevue Schools used a planned in-service day on Monday for a regular day of classes.

“It’s no problem whatsoever to make an educational day an instructional day,” Charlton said. “All districts report their instructional days at the end of the year”

Sandusky Schools superintendent Eugene Sanders plans to contact the department today about the miscommunication. As early as today, the district could possibly convert Thursday into a makeup day, shortening the school year by one day in June, he said.

“The verbal communication we received is that we were not allowed, and obviously we would not have gone public with that position if we had been told differently,” Sanders said. “If necessary, we will resend communication to our parents based on the new information we’ve received”

Currently, the only method the state would not allow school districts to make up canceled days this year is lengthening an individual school day for a period of time, Charlton said.

Future legislation could allow for a one-time exception this school year, but it will become a permanent option next school year. At that time, the state will require schools to log a certain number of classroom hours each year, rather than days.

Until then, schools can make up the lost days using in-service days, holidays, spring break and “alternative plans,” which include utilizing online coursework or sending assignments home in “blizzard bags.” Choosing an option is an entirely local decision.

Of the 16 schools in the Register’s coverage areas, seven plan to tack on extra days to the end of their school calendars. Four have “alternative plans” in place, while three recently approved plans for future calamity days, taking advantage of an extended state deadline. Three also plan to host classes on Presidents Day, if necessary.

As of Monday, local calamity days ranged from 11 cancellations at Bellevue Schools to five at Port Clinton Schools. Put-in-Bay School, which has canceled classes four days, is the only local district that hasn’t used all five of its allotted days this year.

Note: This article is updated from a previous version, which indicated Perkins Schools would use an in-service day Feb. 14 to makeup one of its calamity days.

Comments

Peninsula Pundit

Here's a novel idea: Extend the end of the school year until the missed days are made up. Problem solved.

coasterfan

That idea makes sense, and teachers wouldn't be opposed to that. What it doesn't solve is that the dates of the state-administered tests are still in March. Having extra school days in July doesn't help prepare kids for a test they have to take in March.

asecretlife

Perkins schools is saying this is wrong?? Please correct if it is. House votes on 4 extra calamity days on Feb 12th and then it goes to the Senate.

Kelly

What did Perkins say was wrong?

asecretlife

Secretary at the school said that their make-up plan is not Feb 14th or presidents day. Lack of communication? Their is a Perkins Schools Kalahari Night set for February 13 so if this information is correct then there wil be a lot of people having to cancel their room reservations.

Alissa Widman Neese's picture
Alissa Widman Neese

Jim Gunner just sent out communication earlier today that indicates the makeup days will actually all be at the end of the school year. I've updated the story and I'm working on another story for tomorrow's paper.

I'm working to get an updated chart posted with this story too.

Edit: The chart is now updated as well.

MiddleRight

So will the teachers and administrators be giving back their pay for these "blizzard bag" days? You expect the parents to teach the kids, they should get some pro-rated share of your salary?

The real loser in this process is the kids. They are esentially going to lose 2 weeks of in-class instruction this year. These plans above show if your school district thinks it's more important to educate your kids, or not infringe on district employees summer plans.

The race to the bottom continues.

coasterfan

Rolls eyes. Teachers don't want any more days off; they have no control over the weather, nor whether or not their district calls off school. At this point (my wife is a teacher), they just want to get in the classroom and teach.

Secondly, anyone who has set foot in a school since age 20 realizes that teachers work many, many hours beyond their contracted duties, and do not get paid one cent for it, nor do they expect to get paid for that. Unless you think taxpayers should pony up for all their unpaid overtime, you should probably do the sensible thing and not discuss your idea of docking their pay for snow days.

Thirdly, having spent most of my life in education, experience has shown that the same people who make silly complaints such as yours are also the first to file a lawsuit when their child drives their car into a ditch on the way to school during inclement weather. Schools must protect themselves from idiots, you see.

And finally, Middle Right, can I assume that you would likely NOT ever work 10-15 hours extra each week for no additional compensation at your job. Yet you not only expect teachers to do that, year in and year out, you think they should have their pay docked on the comparatively rare situation in which they work fewer hours than normal.

Yours is a stupid assumption anyway...on snow days, my wife grades papers, does lesson plans and works on her graduate courses (which, of course, she is required to take and fund out of pocket).

Your post was time-stamped at 11:51am. Are you cheating your employer by posting while on the job? If so, I propose that you give back your pay on a pro-rated basis. And that's the irony: apparently, my wife works harder at her job on a snow day than you do while you are AT work.

Darwin's choice

Your erectile disfunction medicine is not working, it's making you more stupid! Former teacher? I'll pray for your ex students, you should have been in prison years ago.....

coasterfan

Wow. Sad to say that there are many other people who, like you, have an utter contempt for teachers and Education in general.

The take away point from my post (which you missed completely) is that teachers don't attack other professions, so I find it odd that, in America, people often attack teachers. They are, after all, in a helping profession, and try hard to make our world a better place. Certainly they do more to help others than their attackers do. I wonder if you've ever changed anyone's life for the better, as they have? On the contrary, you seem to show joy in attempting to make people feel worse about themselves.
I'm sure your parents must be proud.

Luckily, I don't think many teachers take such attacks on their profession personally. My wife, for example, just "considers the source", and ignores hurtful comments made by "ignorant people who don't know any better". Teachers tend to receive many more personal thankyous than idiotic comments lobbed at their profession in general, anyway.

She recently gave up an entire Saturday, with no pay, to coach her school's Power of the Pen team to victory...a bunch of 7th and 8th graders who write at college level. That came after many 90-minute practices after school for which she wasn't paid. That didn't matter to her, because success stories like the one that occurred that day apparently inoculates her against the anti-education/anti-teacher grumps. She continues to be positive-minded, in spite of knowing that there is a growing Idiocracy in America that denigrates public and higher education and thinks someone like Sarah Palin is presidential material. But she does counsel young people to NOT go into education, and I can't say that I blame her.

Middle Right's comments, and yours, say a lot more about YOU, anyway. When you lob an unprovoked attack at someone else, your position is not admirable in any way. Also, being a foe to knowledge and education is not something that anyone should be proud of.

While you're crafting your next insult/response, perhaps you should stop to think about where you learned to read and write: a teacher at a school, who never gave up on you. Go ahead...look in the mirror. Do you still feel good about what you wrote?

Smoke

What the school,township,city or state wants does not matter,it's what the union contract says that matters.They can always go into meadiation with the unions." Good luck on that one!! It's going to cost the schools big time.