Johnstown Independent

J-M, Northridge working on plans to make up missed days

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Johnstown-Monroe and Northridge district officials are making tentative plans to make up at least two days that have been missed because of inclement weather.

Meanwhile, the the state legislature continues to debate whether to forgive more than than five days already provided for hazardous weather and other emergencies each year.

As of Feb. 14, Johnstown and Northridge both had missed seven days of school, two days over the state-allotted five calamity days, as a result of extreme weather conditions.

Johnstown-Monroe High School principal Michael Heath said the administrative team recently met and anticipate the legislature approving the additional days. If they aren't approved, Heath said, the makeup days will be added to the end of the school year.

Northridge Superintendent Chris Briggs said the district added back two hours Tuesday (Feb. 11) by not having a scheduled two-hour early release for staff professional development.

"We are currently looking at our calendar to determine appropriate makeup days if necessary," he said.

Northridge High School principal Amy Anderson said June 2 and 3 would be the high school's makeup days.

House Bill 416, sponsored by Republican Reps. Tony Burkley of Payne and Brian Hill of Zanesville, would allow schools up to four more calamity days so they wouldn't have to make up the days at the end of the school year. The legislation stalled Feb. 12 after some House Republicans raised concerns about paying school personnel for days that weren't worked.

Some Ohio school districts are using "blizzard bags," an online homework option that's allowed by the Ohio Department of Education to make up for as many as three days.

Heath said Johnstown has discussed that option but isn't using it.

Anderson said Northridge hasn't implemented blizzard bags either.

Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, traditional school districts, joint vocational school districts and chartered nonpublic schools will be required to comply with minimum hours of instruction instead of a minimum number of school days each year, negating the calamity-day system.

School districts will be required to be open for instruction for a minimum of 455 hours for students in half-day kindergarten; 910 hours for students in full-day kindergarten through sixth grade; and 1,001 hours for students in grades 7-12.

Schools may schedule hours in excess of the minimum number, according to the ODE. Hours missed above the minimum do not have to be made up. However, if a school closes enough that it would fall below the minimum number of hours, the school must extend its scheduled year.

One way to make up the hours missed below the minimum is to use blizzard bags.

Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, schools will submit plans explaining how they would make up the missed hours instead of days, up to the equivalent of three scheduled days.

Blizzard bags may be used only when it is necessary to close the school because of disease epidemic, hazardous weather conditions, law-enforcement emergencies, inoperability of school buses or other equipment necessary to the school's operation, damage to a school building or other temporary circumstances due to utility failure, rendering the school building unfit for school use.

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