The Challenges of Calamity Days



The weather may (finally!) be warming up in Ohio, but there's still lots of talk about calamity days.

The Ohio Senate is taking up a bill that will increase the number of snow days allowed this year from five to nine. The House passed its own version earlier this week.

Earlier this week, WCPN's call-in show The Sound of Ideas talked about the struggles faced by both Ohio's schools and parents this winter.


Panelist Peggy Lehner, the Republican chair of the Senate Education Committee, mentioned she is expecting a quick compromise.

“I think within the next week we’ll get this sorted out between the House and the Senate and we’ll have one plan to present to the state,” she said.

That could be music to parents’ ears. Some districts have cancelled more than 10 days of school, leaving many parents frustrated.

“I’ve used up ten vacation days this year myself,” a caller from Mentor said. “My employer basically said ‘You can’t just stay home, you’re going to have to be charged your vacation days.’”

“I basically used my summer vacation time for winter vacation,” he added.

The show’s host Mike McIntyre read a Facebook comment mentioning possibly restructuring the school calendar by scheduling longer breaks in the winter and shorter ones in summer.

“At some point, we should reconsider three months off in the summer,” McIntyre read. “Pretty sure one of those months should be January. The benefits of year round education with smaller breaks throughout the year have been documented. “

One of the show’s four panelists, Bay Village Schools’ Superintendent Clint Keynor, agreed that shorter breaks may make more sense.

“Weather or not, it would make sense to have a calendar with shorter breaks,” Keynor said. “As an educator, typically when youngsters go home for winter break or spring break, they return and you pick up where you’re at. But when they’re gone for 10 or 12 weeks in the summer, takes some time to get them up to pace.”

Retired Cleveland Metropolitan School District teacher Merrill Johnson mentioned a similar plan is in place in a Michigan school district.

“Detroit has what they call a winter break,” Johnson said. “And I think it comes one or two weeks at the end of February. so that saves money as far as utilities and so forth, and I think that makes a lot of sense.”

You can listen to the entire Sound of Ideas show about calamity days here.

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