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Ohio House Allows Additional Calamity Days for Schools

COLUMBUS (Lu Ann Stoia) -- The Ohio House of Representatives voted Wednesday to excuse school districts from rescheduling two more days of class due to wicked winter weather. Snowstorms and bitter cold this winter prompted many districts across the state to exhaust their five allowable calamity days. Some have cancelled classes for ten or more days. 

An amendment passed Wednesday has changed the number of calamity days for schools from five to seven. Teachers would be required to make up the two additional days in professional development.

Some republican lawmakers had expressed concerns that if days were not made up, teachers would get paid for nine days they did not work.  Others brought up academic concerns that students would be cheated out of classroom time.

Gov. John Kasich has been among those advocating adding extra snow days on a one-time basis this year. 

Bill co-sponsor Rep. Tony Burkley (R-Ohio) of Payne said the days were needed because of the bone-chilling and record-setting severe weather in Ohio.

Payne's staff said they did not expect any major hurdles in the Senate. But others have suggested the plan could stall in the Senate.

Gov. Kasich signed legislation that increased calamity days from three to five in 2011. Starting next year, schools will count instruction time in hours instead of days, eliminating the need for calamity days.

As of Wednesday, the State Department of Education said 338 districts, of the 614 in Ohio, have submitted plans for so-called blizzard bags, or e-learning days. Districts can use up to three blizzard bag days after they have exhausted their five calamity days.
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