June 27, 2016

Partly sunny

District calculates solution to problem of calamity days

Medina City school board is expected to vote tonight on a proposal to use of “blizzard bags” and one extra day of school to make up for four days lost because of the unusually bad winter.

Last week, Gov. John Kasich signed a law giving schools new tools to adjust their annual calendar to help make up for lost school days.

The law allows schools to have an additional four calamity days, but only after they have made up at least four days from their contingency plan, interim Superintendent Dave Knight said.

The state allows five calamity days, but Medina has used nine this winter.

“On Thursday, building principals and central office administrators met to have a discussion on the options for how we wanted to make up the days,” Knight said.

Their recommendation is to allow students to make up three days with “blizzard bags” — online schoolwork that is turned in later.

The final days would be made up by adding an extra day to the school year. If the plan is approved, the school year would end on Friday, May 30, instead of Thursday, May 29.

Under the new state rules, districts had the additional option of adding blizzard bags. Previously, school calendars had to be approved at the start of the year and school officials had to decide then if they’re going to use the blizzard bags.

Because of the extreme temperatures and winter weather in January and February, state lawmakers said they wanted to give school leaders more choices.

“We looked at a number of options, we could have added extra time to each school day or take the extra days out of spring break,” Knight said. “We weighed the pros and cons of each.”

In the end, Knight said, officials didn’t want to take away time off over spring break or over the summer months.

“Families have plans in the summer and sometimes over the spring break, so we really didn’t want to cut into that,” Knight said.

On Monday, school board members have the option of approving the changes, or doing nothing. If they don’t alter their current plans, the four days will be made up on May 30 and June 2-4, in accordance with the contingency day calendar adopted at the beginning of the year.

Knight said his administration has already made the decision to move back the Ohio Achievement Assessment by one week for elementary and middle school students. That move didn’t require board approval and was offered to administrators by the Ohio Department of Education, the state group that administers the test.

“We wanted to give teachers and children more time to prepare,” Knight said.

The school board meets at 6:30 p.m. at the high school distance learning laboratory at 777 E. Union St.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.

Loren Genson About Loren Genson

Loren Genson was The Gazette's senior reporter. From August 2012 through September 2015, she covered Brunswick city and state and national government. To contact The Gazette, call the managing editor at (330) 721-4065.