It presents difficulties for the schools themselves, too, in terms of making up instructional time. Kim Jones, superintendent of Trimble Local Schools, said that as with the other area school districts, Trimble has exceeded its five allowed calamity days.
Beginning this academic year, Jones added, schools are required to have a plan to make up any missed days. But the Ohio legislature may be able to offer schools a little help by adding four more calamity days. A decision on this is expected later this month.
“The legislature is also considering whether to reauthorize districts to make up time by lengthening days and, if additional make-up days are required, the board will need to consider whether it is best to take that approach," she added.
This year, Jones said, Trimble has been able to take advantage of three Blizzard Bag days. That’s a program allowing children to work on assignments at home and cancel out some of the missed instructional time.
As of Monday, Trimble and Alexander Local Schools had missed 13 days due to weather, Federal Hocking 16, and Athens City 15. In addition, all of the schools have had several two-hour delays. Delays currently do not count toward missed instructional time, although that will change for the 2014-2015 school year, when schools in Ohio will change to an hour-based time schedule.
Reasons for closures are usually travel-related, Jones said, but are sometimes also to do with the cold. It’s dangerous for children to wait for buses when wind-chill temperatures fall into the subzero range.
George Wood, superintendent of Federal Hocking school district said that schools will be in session during scheduled in-service days, and students will attend school on Presidents' Day.
“We will make up some days at the end of the year,” Wood added, “and we’re currently looking at other options.”
Carl Martin, superintendent of Athens City Schools, said his district is doing much the same thing.
“We will make up two days on Feb. 14 and 17," he said. "As of then, we’ll have to extend our school year eight days unless the legislature gives us more relief.”