Sunday, February 16, 2003

Snow, sick kids extend last day for schools

By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

For the first time in years, schools in Adams and Brown counties have to make up days because of snowy weather and illness.

Students in the Adams County/Ohio Valley Schools have missed nine days this school year - seven because of weather and two because illness shut down their buildings.

The district is just one of many in the Tristate where an unusually snowy winter and illness have wreaked havoc on school calendars.

Adams County will have to make up four of the days missed. The last time the 5,000-student district had to make up days was in 1997, when floods forced closings.

The state allows every school district five calamity days that don't have to be made up. Each district has to have a contingency plan before the school year begins that outlines what days would be used as makeupdays, if needed.

Bob Strobl, director of business affairs at Adams County, said the district's makeup days were established in the teachers' contract at the end of the school year. School was to be dismissed this year on May 30, but now the last day is June 5.

At 640 square miles, Adams County/Ohio Valley Schools is the largest school district in Ohio in terms of area.

"We have state, county and township roads," Strobl said. "A number of our township roads are gravel roads, so they are more difficult to get to. Typically, we don't have any more days (off) than they do in the city."

In Eastern Local School District at Sardinia, the district is three days over its calamity day limit. It will make up two days in April and will extend the school year by one day to May 30.

The 1,500-student district is one of few that doesn't have a spring break. School was scheduled to be out on Good Friday and April 21-22. This year, students will give up the two days after Easter.

"I'm kind of opposed to going on Good Friday," Superintendent Alan Simmons said.

Losing eight days of school can be crucial as students and teachers work toward proficiency exams in March.

"That's one of the biggest concerns right now," Simmons said. Simmons has been superintendent for three years and hasn't had to make up days before. His district covers 154 square miles. Western Brown Local School District exceeded its calamity days by one day in two buildings, Mount Orab Elementary and Hamersville Elementary and Middle School. The 1,600 students in those two buildings made up that day Friday, which had been a scheduled day off.

In Clinton County, Blanchester has used all of its calamity days, as has Clermont Northeastern in Clermont County. At Bethel-Tate and New Richmond Exempted Village School District in Clermont, elementary schools have used up five days.

Ohio schools aren't the only ones with the dilemma. Kentucky schools have been hit hard this year by weather and illness. Kenton County Schools started 10 days later this year due to construction, but because of added snow days, the last day of school is now June 13.


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