Governor Kasich is calling on Ohio lawmakers to give the state’s schools extra snow days this year.
John Charlton at the Ohio Department of Education tells Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles the Governor thinks many schools are going to exhaust the five calamity days currently allowed by law.
Charlton – The Department of Education will work with the state legislature to help find a solution that will both insure the continued safety of the students as well as make sure they have the number of days they need to get the appropriate education and also hopefully provide some relief to the districts that have experienced a large number of calamity days.
Ingles – Well, tell me about that. Are there a lot of schools that are out of calamity days or are in danger of being out of them?
Charlton – The Department of Education does not track the number of calamity days that districts take. However, with the Polar Vortex that’s coming through right now, I think we anecdotally have heard many of the districts have taken several days off and used their five calamity days.
Ingles – Governor Kasich says he’s making this one time effort to expand the calamity days for this year. He’s making this a one-time thing because he thinks there are extenuating conditions this year that are due to safety. Tell me about that.
Charlton – The number one priority is making sure the students are safe. And we don’t want school districts feeling like they have to get the kids to schools, putting them in unsafe conditions on school buses. We want to make sure their safety is the first thing thought of. So I think that what Governor Kasich is trying to do is to make sure we are giving the superintendents, the decision makers at the local school districts the ability to say “You know what. It is okay to take more than five days off. We can either make them up or find a solution that’s going to fit our needs and make sure that we still get the appropriate education for the students yet at the same time, we are not sacrificing their safety.
Charlton points out school districts already have an option to allow students to make up missed days via the internet or bookbag work. About a fifth of Ohio’s districts have applied to use that option. Governor Kasich’s proposed increased would be for the current school year only. Two Republican house members are introducing a plan that would allow four extra calamity days this year.