House okays more snow days for schools, Senate to consider

By MARC KOVAC @ohiocapitalblog Published:

COLUMBUS -- The Ohio House OK'd legislation to increase the number of snow days for the state's schoolchildren but added language cutting the number of excused days for teachers.

HB 416 passed on a vote of 80-16 and heads to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

The legislation initially proposed allowing up to four additional calamity days during the current school year, enabling districts to avoid scheduling makeup days over spring breaks, on holidays or weekends, at the end of the school year.

The latter options are being considered by many schools that have had to close for more than the five calamity days allowed under current state law, thanks to recent wintry weather.

"This year, winter in Ohio has been characterized by higher-than-average snowfall totals, as well as bone-chilling, record-setting temperatures across the U.S.," said Rep. Tony Burkley, R-Payne), a primary sponsor of the bill. "... The severity of the weather has caused many school districts to consume all of their calamity days long before today. ... Many in my district have used in excess of 10 (calamity days)."

Rep. Brian Hill, R-Zanesville, co-sponsor of the legislation, said some schools in Guernsey County have already canceled classes on 17 days.

The House Education Committee signed off on HB 416 late last month, but some Republican lawmakers voiced opposition, delaying a final vote for a week as members worked behind the scenes on a compromise.

The bill was amended during Wednesday's House session to allow two extra calamity days during the current school year, plus two additional teacher professional development days, essentially meaning students could be excused up to four additional days.

Some lawmakers still opposed the legislation.

Rep. Mike Henne, R-Clayton, was among opponents, saying the education of Ohio's youth is too important to skip instruction days, particularly when there are plenty of opportunities to make up missed sessions.

"They can make the tough decision to send the kids to school on spring break or Saturdays or whatever," he said.

Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, R-Napoleon, said the legislation means the state is foregoing some $460 million in spending with "no academic return for the kids."

He added, "In the private sector, you don't get paid if you don't serve your customers. I know that's a novel idea in the public sector where they expect to get paid for nothing, for no services rendered, which is exactly what this bill is saying we're going to do."

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  • Personally, I would do away with standardized tests.  They are nothing more than a snapshot of a day in the life of a student.  Get the government out of education, let the teachers do what they do best and that is instruct our youth.  I want our students to be able to think for themselves and not just regurgitate words that have been drilled into them for a stupid test.  The bureaucrats look at the standardized tests as a measuring stick so they can throw more money at this program or that program.  Get the education back to the local level and watch the improvement of our youth.

  • I find it amazing that Re. Wachtmann R-Naponeon, who is currently working in the public sector, uses that analogy.  How many times have services been rendered by the legislature while actually doing nothing. It is difficult to  understand how one working for the legislature for 66 some odd days a year and can get credit for a year and a half of retirement during that year would diss the pubic teachers.  It certainly would be nice if someone would move back the OAA and OGT tests a month and not worry about make up days.  Those days will mostly be at the end of the current school years and teachers would not have a chance to get the time back before the testing dates.  Looks to me like that would be better for all school districts no matter what the weather turns out the rest of the school year.