By Rick Palsgrove
The state legislature approved a bill to allow schools an additional four calamity days to make up for school days lost due to the bad weather that wreaked havoc on schools this winter.
Districts already have five calamity days available, but many districts around the state had to close for more than the allowed days because of the foul weather, including Groveport Madison Schools, which lost 11 school days (12 days for Middle School North).
Current law mandates that school is in session for 182 days. Schools can make up for lost days by using “blizzard bags,” opening school during spring break or on holidays, tacking days on to the end of the school year, or by adding a half hour to the end of school days to make up time.
“Reading the bill, we have determined that we would have to extend our school year by one day, because the bill states that you must give four days to receive those additional four calamity days,” said Dee Copas, Groveport Madison director of communications. “With our blizzard bags covering only three days, we have to give one day. So, the last day of school for all but one of our buildings would be Friday, May 30. Middle School North was closed for 12 days, so its last day would be Monday, June 2.”
Previously the district had planned to use part of spring break as make up days, but now spring break will remain intact.
The Groveport Madison Board of Education passed a resolution for a “blizzard bag” program in February. Under the blizzard bag plan, students receive academic work online or, if they do not have access to a computer, on paper. Students have two weeks from the date of their return to school from a calamity day to complete the assignments.
The Ohio Department of Education first provided the opportunity for school districts to make up days through blizzard bags, an online alternative plan, in 2011.