School cancellations near limit

First Posted: 1/30/2015

LIMA — Oh, say it ain’t snow.

Though children in the region might not be saying that, educators and administrators might be as the number of calamity days run out, new system or not.

Bath Local and Van Wert City schools, for example, already have to schedule a makeup day for the 2014-15 school year.

Even with the new calamity day system measuring the number of hours instead of days in a school year, Van Wert has determined its makeup day will be on Washington’s Birthday. More will be scheduled as needed on specific days during the regular school year in attempt to avoid makeup days in the summer.

Those days are better spent in the typical time frame because teachers can still use them to further curriculum and prepare children for testing, said Van Wert Superintendent Ken Amstutz.

“We’re still figuring out how it’s all going to work,” he said. “The hardest thing about it is that the community will struggle to understand the change.”

With a unique board policy in addition to the state mandated changes, Bath Superintendent Dale Lewellen is working hard to make sure the community understands the system’s change.

Though the district decided not to use blizzard bags this year because of negative feedback, it still has five calamity days. However, the school board passed a unique policy enabling teachers to use calamity days as paid professional development days to ensure they meet the maximum number of days, 182, listed in their staff contracts, ensuring that taxpayers get what they’re paying for and the district’s education remains progressive, the superintendent said.

Pupils, however, will still have to makeup missed time once the district risks breaching the minimum requirement for instruction time. Having exceeded five school cancellations already, students will have a makeup day May 28.

These policies, Lewellen said, give the district more local control.

“It’s not an exact science anymore,” he said. “But the nice thing from my perspective is that it provides us some flexibly.”

Other districts don’t have to schedule makeup days just yet, but they’re right on the cusp.

If Lima City School District has one more cancellation, it will start using blizzard bags. Still, state regulations only allow for three bag days. Columbus Grove Schools, on the other hand, don’t have Blizzard Bags and would have to start rescheduling class days if they have another cancellation this school year.

Still operating on the old system, Columbus Grove Local School District has already designated days to reschedule classes beginning with Feb. 16, if needed. Afterward, makeup days would tap into the beginning of summer break, beginning with May 26.

“For the most part, it’s been easy for parents and students to understand,” Columbus Grove Superintendent Nick Verhoff said.

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