State Representative Jay Hottinger
71st House District
Providing Calamity Days for Our Schools
The rough winter we've experienced has clearly had a disruptive impact on schools and the learning of
our children. This has been a record breaking winter for Ohio. By mid-February central Ohio had already
experienced over 48” of snowfall as well as witnessing record breaking temperatures. In fact, the Ohio
Department of Transportation has been facing supply shortages of salt and road treatments because of
the above average snowfall.
School districts across the state are also facing a shortage, a shortage of days spent in the classroom.
Current Ohio law requires students to be in school at least 180 days with up to 5 days allowed for
calamity days. However, with this unusually cold winter, Ohio schools have been forced to close their
doors for more days than in past winters. The average school district in Ohio has already missed 9 days
of instruction due to inclement weather. Some districts have experienced a whopping 17 days of missed
school. This is detrimental to our students as less time spent in the classroom means less education.
School districts have also been faced with the question of student safety when choosing whether or not
to shut down operations for the day. Of course education is significant, but safety is one of the most
important things when it comes to our children, and that is why so many school districts have already
surpassed their allotted number of calamity days. Deciding if or when to delay or close schools is never
an easy one – and it is usually met with second guessers.
Recently the legislature has been discussing and debating increasing the number of calamity days for
schools. The debate to increase it from its current 5 days is not an easy one. Children learn best when
they are receiving instructional teaching in the classrooms of teachers. Many districts, including some
local ones, are utilizing “blizzard bags” which are take-home work assignments. However, having our
kids in schools and receiving instructional teaching is more important and effective. That’s why the bill
that was recently debated and voted on in the Ohio House of Representatives to allow four additional
calamity days for students and 2 days for teachers and school personnel wasn’t an easy one. The bill
which passed the Ohio House on February 19th, with my support, increases for just this school year the
number to 9 days of calamity for students and teachers to 7 days. Many administrators and
superintendents around the state indicated the need for additional time for teacher training so for two
days schools will be in session without students to afford time for teacher training.
The bill is currently pending in the Ohio Senate and may very well experience additional changes before
its passage. It is important for the legislature to very soon make clear our direction so that schools and
families of students can be prepared for taking the necessary steps to ensure compliance with the
required days of instruction and to adjust their calendars accordingly.
In a related matter, the Ohio Department of Education and State Superintendent Richard Ross have
extended the testing window for the Ohio Achievement Assessment tests (OAAs) for third- through
eighth-grade students. Schools have been given an extra week if needed to further prepare the
students. Testing would begin April 21 and go until May 16. Because of the Third Grade Reading
Guarantee and the importance of their test, third-grade scores will still be returned around the original
The uniqueness of this winter has posed many challenges and none more so than to the education and
learning of our children.
For additional information, feel free to contact me at my office.
Rep. Hottinger may be reached by calling (614)466-1482, emailing Rep71@ohiohouse.gov, or writing to
State Representative Jay Hottinger, 77 South High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215.