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Highland students to make up calamity days at end of year

3/20/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Scott Kriska

Students in the Highland Local School District will attend school four days longer this school year as the Board of Education agreed March 17 to extend the school year to make up four calamity days.

Superintendent Catherine Aukerman said state legislators reached an agreement concerning the procedure for making up “snow days” or calamity days this school year. She said, through this procedure, schools with five calamity days will not need to make up any of them, but schools with six, seven, eight or nine calamity days will need to make up those past the five-day mark. However, she said, schools with more than nine calamity days will not need to make up those past the nine-day mark. [See related story on Page 3.]

Aukerman explained most districts in Ohio have exceeded the five allotted calamity days originally allowed under state law, including Highland, which has reached the nine-day mark. However, she said, districts have now been given the option of making up missed days in one of the following ways: adding days to the school year, adding 30-minute increments to each school day and the use of “blizzard bags,” which are homework packets distributed by teachers to make up missed school work.

Aukerman said high school seniors will be exempt from attending any makeup days after graduation, which is scheduled for May 23 for Highland’s seniors.

Aukerman said last year Highland had already added an extra four makeup days to the school calendar in case they were needed. Those days include May 30 and June 2, 3 and 4.

After some discussion, board members favored the district’s previous plan of in-school makeup days and agreed to add those to this year’s school calendar.

Aukerman said next year the state will require minimum hours of instruction rather than minimum days of instruction. She said, with the current schedule for all grades, Highland already exceeds the number of hours that will be required.

In other business, the board acknowledged the upcoming retirement of Sharon Elementary School Principal Connie Marzullo after 22 years in the district. Board members said their goodbyes and shared their thoughts about Marzullo’s performance in the district. Her retirement is effective June 30.

“Connie is exemplar, wonderful, professional, everything,” said board member Diane Thomas. “I can’t imagine the district without her.”

“I cannot express in words what you’ve meant to this school district,” added board President Robert Kelly.

Marzullo also expressed her gratitude toward the board and her colleagues.

“Thank you for allowing me the opportunity,” she said. “It wasn’t a job to me.”

Also at the meeting, Theresa Wright, of the Highland Foundation, distributed fliers to the public regarding the foundation’s projects for the 2013-14 school year. She said 14 projects have been held this school year, targeting education levels from prekindergarten to college.

Wright said more than $1 million has been spent by the foundation on projects, and the foundation is seeking feedback from the community on its efforts. She said a survey on the foundation’s website at www.highlandfoundation.org is available for the public to take.

In other business, the board approved the following:

  • amendments to the Fiscal Year 2014 appropriations;
  • a resolution accepting the amounts and rates as determined by the budget commission and authorizing the necessary tax levies and certifying them to the county auditor;
  • various donations to the district, Highland Middle School, Hinckley Elementary School, Sharon Elementary School, the Highland High School Speech and Debate Team and the Highland High School Class of 2014;
  • the use of school facilities and the waiver of fees for various functions; and
  • the Highland Community Education Agreement for winter 2014, the Medina County Educational Service Center Agreement for the 2014-15 school year and an agreement with MSB Consulting Group for Medicaid billing and consultation.

The next Highland Board of Education meeting is scheduled for April 14 at 7 p.m. in the Media Center at Highland High School, 4150 Ridge Road.

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