Districts Could See Relief

ST. MARYS — An area legislator announced plans on Monday to introduce a bill that would grant Ohio school districts additional calamity days this school year.

The legislation, which will be filed with the Ohio House Clerk’s Office today by Ohio Reps. Tony Burkley and Brian Hill, will up the calamity days from five to nine this school year. Many districts in the area, including those in Auglaize County, have surpassed the five allotted days because of extremely cold temperatures and snow this winter. Burkley represents Ohio’s 82nd House District, which encompasses St. Marys and Wapakoneta as well as the northwestern portion of the county.

“Approximately a third of the state’s school districts have already used five or more calamity days, and the winter is far from over,” Burkley said in a news release. “One of my districts is approaching 10 calamity days. I credit my constituents for bringing this issue to my attention.”

Hill said the decision to introduce the measure came down to safety.

The recent cold, snow and ice have put Ohio schools at a necessary stand-still in order to keep our kids safe,” Hill said in a news release. “I’m confident that those at the local level can be trusted to adapt to the change in calamity days and ensure that students are taught the needed curriculum they will need to succeed before the end of the school year.”

As of today, St. Marys has used eight calamity days —  meaning it will have to make up at least three days at the end of the year at this point. St. Marys Superintendent Shawn Brown said he understands the logic behind the proposal.

“I can see both sides of the issue,” Brown told The Evening Leader. “I hate not having the kids in school for the additional days but at the same time I understand it’s for the students’ safety so there isn’t any pressure to have school when the conditions are not ideal for students and buses to be on the roads.”

The issue of calamity days will become moot after this school year. For the 2014-2015 school year, schools will be switching from measuring class time in days to hours.