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Make-up days no added cost to school district

Joe Centers • Feb 5, 2014 at 7:07 PM

With the Norwalk City Schools sitting at nine calamity days thus far, barring any help from the state, students will have to make up three of those days.

But at what cost?

Schools Superintendent Dennis Doughty said while employees are paid for snow days, they -- like the students -- have to make them up. Those employees will not get extra pay for make-up days, Doughty said.

"They are expected to work the 184 days, minus those first five days (which do not have to be made up)," Doughty said. "Most of our employees fall into that. They don't get any additional pay. They are make-up days for everybody. People are paid to work a certain amount of days. "

While most of the salaries are covered, snow days don't come without some expense.

"The additional costs are when you have to bring the people in on the snow days to clean the parking lots and you still have to heat the buildings," he said. "You need it in anticipation of having school. You still have that day-to-day expense."

Gov. John Kasich recently urged the Ohio General Assembly and Ohio Department of Education to work together on legislation providing a one-time increase in the number of days that schools can take off because of snow or bad weather. Kasich said a one-time increase of just a few days is needed since so many Ohio school districts have used -- or are close to using -- their five allowable "calamity" days due to the unusually severe winter weather this year.

Doughty said it would be great if the schools got some help from the state, but the winter is far from over.

"We always figure we will have one (calamity) day in March and two in February," he said. "That is typical. We hope that doesn't happen, but we will take it one day at a time."

The school board passed a resolution adopting a "Blizzard Bag" policy as an alternative for making up calamity days, and today is the first day students are utilizing that arrangement.

Students are able to go to the school district website to recent their assignments and have two weeks to make them up. Students without Internet access will receive the list of assignments the first day they return to school and have up to two weeks from that point to finish the work.

"It is not the best alternative, but it is better than what we have now," Doughty said.

Students are counted as having "attended" school once they complete their assignments.

"If they don't complete it, they're absent," Doughty told the board.

Fifty percent of the students who finish their assignments are needed to make one "Blizzard Bag" day count for the district.

Doughty said schools have a maximum of three "Blizzard Bag" days.

The President's Day holiday scheduled for later this month already has been eliminating, so students will make up one of the calamity days then.

If state legislators don't allow for more than five calamity days this year, then Norwalk will tack on any make-up days at the end of the school year.

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