By MAX FILBY
With the governor’s signature, new state legislation will mean students in McComb have to make up one more “snow day” instead of five.
McComb has had a record number of snow days this year, with 17 days called off as of Wednesday. The district would normally have to make up 12 of those days, and so far, McComb students have made up seven of them.
The remainder will soon shrink, though, if Gov. John Kasich signs a bill that both the Ohio House and Ohio Senate passed Wednesday.
“I’m elated about it,” said Meri Skilliter, McComb superintendent. “I feel a lot better about calling off now.”
House Bill 416 will allow districts to have nine snow days instead of the usual five, meaning area districts that called off classes again Wednesday may not have to extend their school year by as much.
Kasich has publicly supported the idea of giving schools more calamity days this year because of harsher winter weather.
The bill also allows for districts to make up snow days in half-hour increments. Skilliter said McComb will not take advantage of half-hour increments, but Findlay Superintendent Dean Wittwer has said he would support that method of making up days.
“My concern is that we may have fewer days to educate our kids,” Wittwer said.
McComb already has been reducing its makeup days: The district made up one day on Martin Luther King Day in January, another on Presidents Day in February, two others on teacher in-service days, and three more through an online program.
If four more snow days are allowed, McComb would have just one more day to make up.
“I’m really happy that our district has been so proactive,” Skilliter said. “These four days are just kind of the icing on the cake.”
Earlier this year, McComb approved a plan with the state to make up three days online, something Vanlue and Van Buren students had already been doing.
Originally, districts had to get their online plans approved in August, but the state allowed districts to sign up later because of bad weather.
Students who were unable to complete the lesson plans teachers set up online were able to take home a “blizzard bag,” which contained printed lessons for snow days.
“We had very high participation and overall we’re pretty satisfied with it,” Skilliter said. “We might even use it again next year.”
While a few area districts use the online makeup days, Wittwer said he didn’t like the idea of Findlay students doing the same.
“We find more value in the classroom than we do by doing it online,” Wittwer said. “We just don’t see students getting as much out of it online.”
Findlay students will instead make up days in the classroom, but Wittwer warned that several more snow days could force the district to look at having class on Saturdays or during spring break. At February’s school board meeting, Wittwer said he hoped to avoid either option.
“We find that families know not to plan anything right at the end of the school year, so that’s always been a good time for us to make up days,” Wittwer said.