Schools planning to make up snow days

Published 9:45 am Monday, January 31, 2011

Winter weather is taking its toll and many students from Lawrence County will feel it well into springtime.

Several school districts from Lawrence County have exceeded the state’s allotted number of snow days and are planning to make up days during spring break.

In Ohio, schools have three calamity or snow days built into their school calendars. When the schools exceed that number, they are required to make them up.

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The Ohio House of Representatives is considering a bill that would allow schools to have two more excused calamity days this year. If House Bill 36 is adopted as a law, schools would only have to make up snow days after they exceed five. The bill, which was introduced Jan. 19 and has been referred to a committee, would also allow districts the opportunity to make up days by adding 30-minute increments to the end of their school days.

In years past, Ohio schools have had five calamity days built into their schedules.

With or without the two extra days from House Bill 36, schools in Lawrence County will have to make up snow days. The real question is how many and when.

Dawson-Bryant Local Schools have missed seven days so far due to snow. Superintendent Dennis Decamp said the board of education will discuss changes to the school calendar at its next meeting, which is scheduled for Feb. 7. Two likely makeup days are Presidents’ Day on Feb. 21 and Feb. 18. As it stands now, the district will also be making up two days during spring break, March 28 and 29.

Symmes Valley, Chesapeake, and South Point school districts have all also missed seven days for snow so far.

Symmes Valley is planning to have school Feb. 18 and 21 and during two days of its spring break. Chesapeake Superintendent Scott Howard said his district will be scheduling four make-up days during spring break. South Point is planning to make up its four days on Presidents’ Day and during three days of its spring break, Assistant Superintendent Mark Christian said.

Symmes Valley Superintendent Jeff Saunders said this winter and last winter have had more inclement weather than past years.

“It’s not typical,” Saunders said. “We had a bad winter last year. Last year we lost several days in February, which is concerning. The past two winters have not been normal but when we had the five days most of the time it was sufficient.”

Ironton City Schools have used five snow days so far. Superintendent Dean Nance said the district is scheduled to make up two days — one on Presidents’ Day and one during the first day of spring break, March 28.

Ironton schools were on a two-hour delay Friday. Nance said the decision to call off school because of snow is not easy. He and the district’s transportation director were both out testing road conditions early that morning, he said.

“I checked the hour-by-hour forecast and it was predicted to be above freezing,” Nance said. “Weather forecasters do a better job at predicting weather now, but that still doesn’t mean they always get it right. They’re closer on temperature than precipitation.”

The temperature decides whether salt and scraping will be effective in removing snow and ice from the roads, Nance said.

“When we called the two-hour delay, had the temperature dropped down, I would have changed it to closed,” Nance said. “The main thing about snow days is that I don’t want to go to school if I don’t think we can safely get the kids to school on the buses.”

Calls to Rock Hill Superintendent Wes Hairston and Fairland Superintendent Jerry McConnell were not returned as of press time.