Number of calamity days to drop in 2010-11

Whether it’s gusts of wind, a wall of snow or a blanket of ice, Mother Nature tends to throw curve balls throughout the year that sometimes call for school delays or closings. Next year, however, a reduction of the number of calamity days may mean students will have to break out the snow shovels before making their way to school.

This year, as in past years, Ohio’s public schools are allowed a total of five calamity days, without having to make up missed days in June. The most recent word from the state is that the number of calamity days will drop to three in the 2010-11 school year, and it may be reduced even more in future years.

According to Superintendent Dr. James J. Schoenlein, the reason for change is a worthy and smart one. “The big reason for the change in calamity days comes when you pay attention to the big picture,” Schoenlein said. “With other countries such as China and India rapidly gaining on us in the economic realm, a more educated workforce is a great way for us to compete. Making up missed days is one part of Gov. Ted Strickland’s plan to keep us economically competitive.”

Reduction naturally disappoints students

Some students are unhappy with the change, however. “I think this is an outrage,” said sophomore Billy Lundberg. “The school shouldn’t be able to take away the snow days that we all look forward to in the winter.”

Schoenlein finds fault with that line of thinking. “Having days off of school is something that students should not see as a right. Students in China, India, Korea and Japan, as well as a host of other countries, have longer school days and more school days in a year than Americans.”

Schoenlein said residents from other countries are out to get American jobs. “You can see it happening all around us.” He says education is the primary strategy people in other countries use when securing American jobs. “Young people have to get it through their heads that in order to compete successfully for a job, they have to work harder and longer at school,” said Schoenlein.

More school days would increase the education of America’s youth, which in turn could lead to a smarter, more productive workforce. “I think it’s hard to not support this decision when you look at the global picture and the effect it could have on our students,” said Schoenlein.

Impact remains to be seen

How next year’s reduction in allowable calamity days will affect the school district’s decision to close or delay is still unclear, however. “We still may have to have a lot of closings or delays, but we will make sure these missed days will be made up,” said Schoenlein. This may mean more delays to give the city time to clear the roads, but Schoenlein said no changes will be made that might put students in danger.

“The most important thing to remember when faced with the decision to either close or delay school is the safety of our kids,” said Schoenlein.