Calamity Day Bill Set To Joint Conference Committee

By
Agnes Hapka - Athens Messenger staff reporter
Jo Ingles - Statehouse News Bureau


Updated Fri, Feb 28, 2014 10:56 am

It may be two more weeks before Athens school districts have a definitive answer to the question of calamity day make-ups, according to the Associated Press.

The Ohio Senate passed its own version on Wednesday, one week after the House passed its HB 416. The Senate bill also allowed schools four extra days, but added the provision that districts must first use four of their five contingency days built into the school calendar. Both bills allow schools to add 30 minutes to each school day in an effort to make up days, although this is a somewhat drawn-out measure: it takes 11 days to make up one full school day.

Because the House and Senate haven't yet reached an agreement, the bill has been sent to a joint conference committee, which may take a couple more weeks. This leaves Athens County school districts still unable to make concrete plans for extending — or not extending — the school year.

"I just think it is a shame that legislators could not address this issue," Federal Hocking School District Supt. George Wood noted via email, "Parents and schools are working to make plans, meanwhile the legislature puts this issue off for another two weeks as the next voting session is said to be March 12. Why doesn't the legislature make up their work, just like they want kids and teachers to make up theirs."

Mick McClelland, superintendent of Nelsonville York City Schools, commented in a similar vein.

"They have been kicking this around for over a month," McClelland said, adding that he is "just waiting to see what the outcome is."

"Whatever they come up, with we will deal with it," McClelland said.

Trimble Local Schools Supt. Kim Jones commented that as the bills are finalized, her district would weigh its options, and Jeff Cullum, superintendent of Alexander said that his district will "wait until a bill is finalized before making final decisions regarding calamity days."

Carl Martin, superintendent of Athens City Schools said he would prefer to wait until "some resolution comes from the legislature" before commenting.

Athens' Associate Supt. Tom Gibbs said that the school district is "patiently awaiting the outcome from the Statehouse and hope to have an answer for our parents and students soon."

"We were hoping to have this issue resolved more quickly," Gibbs added, "As our initial thought was to begin adding 30 minutes of time to school days as early as the first week of March. Obviously, the delay in having an agreement between all parties at the state level will cause us to adjust our plans accordingly. As soon as we have the details of any new legislation we will communicate those changes and how they will impact the remaining school calendar as soon as possible."

Each of Athens County’s school districts has missed at least a dozen days due to inclement weather this year. And, as several superintendents have pointed out, winter isn't over yet.

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