Why Some Schools Will Have More Calamity Days Than Others Next Year

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As state lawmakers continue to mull over plans to allow Ohio’s public schools more snow days, many schools are looking forward to next year when snow days won’t be such a big issue. In an interview with Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles, the Ohio Department of Education’s John Charlton explains why.

"Next year we are switching to a system where we have a minimum number of days to a system where we have a minimum number of hours," Charlton said. "Across the state, we figure the average school district right now, as far as upper level students, they are averaging about 1,126 hours which is about 125 hours over the minimum required for seventh through twelfth graders. So most districts are already going to meet the minimum number of requirements if they stay on the same schedule they basically are following this year."

Ingles: So what does that mean in terms of how many days of school they could miss before they’d have to re-adjust the hours or do something differently?

"Well I guess that’s up to each individual school district depending on the number of hours they have," Charlton said. "Obviously you have to meet that minimum number of hours and they can make that up by going an extra day or add time on each school day. This new schedule gives school districts a lot of flexibility in not only how they schedule their days but also how they may also want to make up days if they have a high number of calamity days as they have this year."

Ingles: "We know that some school districts have a high number of hours to the point that maybe they could miss a whole month and still be ok with the hours, right?

"Yea, a lot of districts do have a large number of hours. As I said, the average school district already has 125 more than the minimum number of hours required. It will be up to the individual school districts to determine if they want to make up time or not depending on what they are trying to accomplish in their school," Charlton said.

"Most superintendents that we’ve spoken to anecdotally would tell you that they are not looking to shorten the school year any. They think that they should be adding hours to the school year to get students as much class time as possible to (….learn all of the things they are asked to learn)."

Many of Ohio’s school districts have run out of snow days allotted for this school year. There are two bills in the Ohio legislature to give schools more snow days but the plans have strings attached. Lawmakers are working out an agreement on those plans this week. They hope to be able to vote on one agreed upon plan next week.