Last week, the Ohio House of Representative and Ohio Senate took action to develop a plan that will provide four additional calamity days to school districts. Here’s a summary of some of the key provisions of the bill, as well as the answers to a few of the more frequently asked questions we’ve received:
- Additional calamity days. The bill provides four additional calamity days for the 2013-2014 school year. These additional days may be granted to districts only after they have made up four of their contingency days and only after the district’s board of education passes a resolution affirming its intention to request the waiver of the additional days.
It is our belief that blizzard bags “count” toward the four contingency days a district is required to make up. Take, for example, a district that has missed 12 days of school due to the weather and has “made up” three days using blizzard bags. The first five missed days will be waived under existing law. Because the district has made up three of their contingency days via blizzard bags, they only need to make up one more school day (either by coming in on one of their contingency days or by extending the school day in 30-minute increments), before the remaining three days will be waived.
- 30-minute increments. The bill provides permissive authority for boards of education to make up missed days by adding 30-minute increments to existing school days. Districts that have already started adding the extra time this year will receive credit for this time after the bill passes.
The bill does not specify when the 30 minutes must be added to the school day. As a result, the 30 minutes may be added at either the beginning or end of the current school day.
- Updates to contingency plans. The bill authorizes a board of education to update their contingency plans for the 2013-2014 school year at any time during the school year and to include in their plans online lessons or “blizzard bags” as a means to make up time the school was closed. The language essentially waives the August 1, 2013 deadline previously set forth by statute.
- Graduating seniors. The bill allows school districts, for the 2013-2014 school year, to excuse graduating seniors from attendance for any time that their schools are open after their scheduled graduation ceremony.
Once Governor Kasich signs the bill, the provisions will take effect immediately due to an emergency clause. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact OSBA’s division of legal services.