Licking County News

Licking Heights waiting on calamity-days decision

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The Licking Heights school district did not use "blizzard bags" to make up part of seven calamity days used thus far this winter, but if a bill passed last week in the Ohio House becomes law, the district would not have to make up any days this year, said Superintendent Philip Wagner.

"We're waiting to see what the legislators do," Wagner said.

Ohio allows five calamity days per district, but the unusually harsh winter has forced many districts to cancel school more than five times. The Licking Heights school district already has submitted a calamity plan to the state that extends the school year and includes up to five makeup days June 2 through 6.

But according to The Columbus Dispatch, last week's Ohio House bill would grant an additional four days off for students while teachers would get two more calamity days and two in-service training days.

Should this bill or something similar become law, "our students are covered," Wagner said, even if the district has to call two more calamity days this year.

Wagner said district officials considered submitting a plan to the Ohio Department of Education to use blizzard bags, allowing students to make up three additional days of instruction online by accessing assignments on the district's website or in packet form.

But, Wagner said, district officials learned blizzard bag days were not retroactive.

He said next year, the state plans to use a calamity day system based on hours students spend in the classroom.

Wagner also said Licking Heights students spend far more than the state minimum required hours in class, so next year, even if winter is just as harsh as this one, students will be covered for calamity days.

So, simply put, he said, the blizzard bag days are unnecessary.

"Blizzard bags were not recommended by administration for several reasons, including pending legislation to increase days, lack of a need for next year with a shift to required hours, not days, and the complexity of putting a thought-out system in place quickly," said school board member Richard Wand.

Wagner said there is no plan to make up calamity days during spring break. He said once more is known about how the state will handle calamity days, he will inform parents.

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