Schools plan for more closures

WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Warren City School leaders discussed their next steps after already using seven of their allotted five calamity days this year.

Administrators met Monday morning and decided the school year will be extended to make up for lost days because of  the weather. Students will attend class on June 2 and June 3 to make up for the lost time.

Superintendent Mike Notar said the district is putting a request in to the Ohio Department of Education seeking approval for Blizzard Bags, which includes in-depth assignments that can be completed at home.

“If we do have a calamity day, once they return, they’re given the work by their teachers, and they have up to two weeks to turn that in,” said Notar. “Then the teachers have up to three weeks to grade that material and record it in the grade book. It all has to be tied to the common core, everything that is sent home.”

Notar said the decision whether to cancel school is an easy one. He thinks about the safety of all students, including the nearly 1,000 who walk to school.

The district does not use the two-hour delay option.

Meanwhile, over in Struthers, classes were canceled Monday. They already had an early dismissal, so the superintendent said it would not make sense to use a two-hour delay.

“We all have different scenarios with walkers and how many students walk, and our bus fleet and how many kids we have out on the road driving. It’s always though if you can save one life and err on the side of caution, we err on the side of caution,” said Struthers Superintendent Joe Nohra.

The district has used four calamity days so far.

Struthers will use a Blizzard Bag if they have to call off six or more days and evaluate it. If officials do not believe it adequately supplemented the students’ instruction, they will reschedule that day for later in the year using their waiver days and early dismissal days as make up days, or will extend the school year.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich announced Monday that he is urging the Ohio General Assembly and Ohio Department of Education to work together on legislation providing a one-time increase in the number of days schools can take off because of inclement weather.

Kasich said the extra days are needed since so many Ohio schools have used or are close to using their five allowable calamity days.

“School closures can, of course, be an inconvenience but student safety always comes first. Many schools have already hit the maximum number of snow days, or will soon, and if they exceed it and have to extend the school year it can wreak havoc with schools budgets and schedules. Giving schools a few extra snow days this year will be helpful and let everyone stay focused on the top priority when weather hits, keeping kids safe,” said Kasich.

Ohio law allows schools five “calamity” days a year before they must start adding days to the school year. Kasich enacted legislation in 2011 increasing the number of calamity days from three to five. This proposed increase would be for the current school year only.

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