Licking County News

New calamity-day law

Makeup plans are unaltered for local districts

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This school year, the Licking Heights and Southwest Licking school districts each called seven calamity days, two more than the five allotted per district.

Both came up with plans to make up those two days.

Officials from both districts say their plans remain the same even after Gov. John Kasich last week signed a bill granting districts four additional calamity days if they make up four days of classes first.

Southwest Licking Superintendent Robert Jennell said some might find the arrangement confusing.

"The new four days don't automatically kick in after the blizzard-bag days," he said during the Southwest Licking school board's March 20 meeting.

Jennell said Southwest Licking officials took advantage of the state's blizzard-bag program, meaning students could complete online work at home to make up a maximum of three days missed beyond the initial five. Southwest Licking used two blizzard-bag days last winter.

Jennell said if Southwest Licking should need another calamity day this year, the third blizzard-bag day would be used to cover it.

But, if the district needed two more calamity days this year, "day nine, we actually have to make up," he said.

After the ninth calamity day, the next four would be covered under the new legislation.

"Starting with day 10, the next four days would be waived," Jennell said.

Any calamity days beyond 14 would need to be made up, he said.

Jennell said high school seniors are exempt and additional calamity days would not affect graduation. He said seniors would not be required to return to school to make up calamity days after graduation.

School board member Daniel Bell asked if Southwest Licking had the option to add 30 minutes for several days to make up missed days. Jennell said yes, but he was concerned doing so would be more confusing than simply making up whole days, if necessary.

"There's no perfect solution," said board President Don Huber.

* Meanwhile, Licking Heights did not use the blizzard-bag program and its students are scheduled to make up two days June 2 and 3.

"We must make up two days," said Nicole Roth, a Licking Heights school board member. "We'll be adding them at the end of the school year. Each time the school district sets (its) school calendar, we must plan for the calamity days."

Roth said Licking Heights has traditionally added the makeup days at the end of the school year.

"The recent legislation has not affected our plans at all," Roth said. "The way the legislation is written, after we use the original five calamity days, we must use our calamity days that were put in place when our school calendar was approved."

Essentially, she said, the new legislation would help Licking Heights only if the district used more than 10 calamity days.

"Next year, this should not be an issue with the state moving to hours instead of (calamity) days," Roth said.

A new law, which takes effect this fall, will change the length of time students must spend in school from days to hours. Because of that, calamity days will be eliminated.

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