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

deadline.

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.

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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.