Exempting calamity days a good idea

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Tribune Staff

This winter has not been kind to local school districts. Last weekend's winter storm, which left thousands without power and several roads closed, didn't help matters, either.

All Lawrence County school districts have surpassed their allotted five calamity days. The state of Ohio requires schools to be in class a minimum of 182 days each school year and allows for five "calamity days" when school can be canceled because of weather or other uncontrollable emergencies.

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One Ohio legislator hopes to give at least some school districts some relief.

State Rep. Todd Book (D, McDermott) was expected to introduce legislation Monday that would relieve school district's affected by last weekend's weather. The bill would allow days missed because of the winter storm to be exempt from the allotted calamity days, as long as a district missed three or more consecutive days between Monday, Feb. 17 and Friday, Feb. 28. Book's proposal would not allow schools to ignore days taken from other snowfalls this school year.

This would be a big relief for the Rock Hill and Symmes Valley districts. Because of power outages and/or roads closings due to downed trees, both districts missed at least four days last week. Rock Hill missed last Monday through Friday and Symmes Valley had to call off classes Monday through Thursday.

When deciding whether or not to call off school, safety is the first consideration of local school districts, not worrying about how many calamity days have been used or how many are left. No electricity and roads closed are obviously good reasons for not holding school.

Last weekend's devastating winter storm left several southern Ohio counties, including Lawrence, in a state of emergency. While five calamity days is usually reasonable, the state should make provisions when a situation such as this one arises.

Right now, all school districts in Lawrence County are trying to determine how they are going to make up days. As much as students will hate to hear it, June can be used to make up missed school days, if necessary. However, any relief that can be offered to those schools which were most adversely affected by the storm will only help.

We support Mr. Book's proposed legislation 100 percent, and hope his peers in Columbus will, too.