Contrary to the very mild 2016-17 weather, this winter has some local school districts nearing their limit of school closures. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Ty Greenlees
Photo: Ty Greenlees

Local schools make up more snow days than state requires

A change in Ohio law means local schools no longer have to hold makeup days as soon as they reach their sixth “calamity day” closure, but many local schools are doing so anyway.

Of 22 local school districts surveyed by the Dayton Daily News, 15 of them would make up missed time in some form if they reach a sixth full-day closure, and three schools have already reached that point.

Miami East Local Schools, which has missed the most time of any district we surveyed (six full days plus seven two-hour delays), is already into “e-day” makeups, where lessons are posted online for students to complete, according to Superintendent Todd Rappold.

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Fairborn has added an in-school makeup day May 31 because it has missed six days, and Milton-Union has turned its planned teacher training day May 29 back into a regular school day.

“Our approach is to reclaim instructional time, not because we are required but because we want our kids to be prepared,” Milton-Union Superintendent Brad Ritchey said.

Earlier this decade, the state took away the rule that schools have to make up any calamity days beyond the first five, saying instead that schools have to offer a certain number of hours of instruction during the year – a minimum of 910 hours for students in full-day kindergarten through sixth grade, and 1,001 hours for grades 7-12.

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Local schools’ base schedules vary, but some exceed those minimums by the equivalent of 10, 20 or even 30 school days. Miamisburg and Vandalia-Butler are among the districts whose schools are far over the minimum and don’t intend to schedule makeup days unless the state hours limit comes into play.

Miamisburg schools have been closed for four days this winter, and Butler for three days, so they would need a weeks-long catastrophe for that to happen.

Other districts that are well over the state minimum number of hours will make up days anyway if they reach a sixth full-day closure. Among the districts that are one more snow day away from some form of makeup are Tipp City, Northmont, Troy, Tecumseh, Franklin and Covington.

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Seven of the districts that would make up calamity days starting with Day No. 6, including Northmont, Tecumseh and Franklin, said they would do so via “e-day” online assignments. Another eight districts, including Troy, Centerville and Greeneview, would do so by rescheduling an extra traditional school day if they get to six cancellations.

Mad River Schools have had five full-day cancellations and four two-hour delays this winter, leading to a February schedule change. Superintendent Chad Wyen said his district turned the Feb. 2 teacher training day back into a regular school day, because the seventh- and eighth-grade building was approaching the state minimum hours of 1,001.

Bellbrook Interim Superintendent Jeff Lewis said his district is hoping that “Mother Nature will be kind” for the rest of the winter as they get within a few days of the state minimum, due to five closures and five delays.

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“Right now we’re on the bubble,” Lewis said. “Principals have not indicated a need for more hours; however, usage of time has been modified in schools to keep instruction front and center. If we miss anything else, discussions with administrative team members and (union) leadership will determine best options.”

Eaton schools are still two snow days away from needing a makeup, but Superintendent Barbara Curry said there is a detailed plan in place for “e-days” in case they are needed.

“E-day lessons will be opened on each teacher’s school webpage by 9:00 a.m., (and) students without internet access will receive paper copies of the lessons upon our return to school,” Curry said. “All students will have two weeks to complete the assigned work (and) each student’s work will be evaluated and included in his/her performance grade for the grading period.”

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Makeup days weren’t an issue last year, given an extremely mild winter. And school officials can take hope from the current weather forecast, which calls for high temperatures in the 50s for much of the next two weeks.

But the Miami Valley’s history of early March snowstorms will keep this issue on schools’ and families’ radar for at least another month … just in time for “spring” break.

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