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Extra day, blizzard bags to recoup missed school days

3/27/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Becky Tompkins

Students in three of the Woodridge Local School District schools have missed eight days to cold and snowy weather this winter. The high school students have missed 10, with the addition of two days when the school was closed because of a gas leak.

Ohio law allows districts five excused “calamity days” when schools are closed because of bad weather or another calamity; after that, they must make up the missed days.

But this year, schools have had so many snow days that making them up could take instruction into the summer.

Ohio’s General Assembly passed what Woodridge Superintendent Walter Davis called “a legislative fix” for this year only, in which districts may have four more excused calamity days, but only after they have made up four missed days by any of several means.

At the Board of Education meeting March 18, Davis explained and the board members approved the combination of ways that Woodridge students will make up the lost instruction time.

They will attend school April 21. This is currently scheduled as a parent-teacher conference day, but the Woodridge Education Association teachers union has “voted overwhelmingly to approve” a memorandum of understanding changing that to an instruction day, Davis said.

Another make-up option permitted by the Ohio Department of Education is the use of “blizzard bags,” with each bag containing the equivalent of a day’s class work. The board approved the use of up to three days of the bags, for this year only.

Davis said each teacher will make enough bags with relevant instructional material, and it will not be “busy work,” he stressed, but “rigorous assignments, content-rich and tied to the curriculum.”

The students will have two weeks to complete each bag’s work. That work, by law, must be turned in and graded, Davis said. If it is not turned in on time, the student will receive a zero for the assignment and be counted absent for one day.

The assignments will be printed on paper and given to the students, not just put online, Davis said, so all students will have them.

The seventh and eighth missed class days for primary, intermediate and middle school students will be made up via the blizzard bags. The high school will use blizzard bags for its ninth day, too. The 10th missed day will fall under the state’s new additional four excused calamity days and will not need to be made up, he said.

Another option allowed by the state for making up the missed time is to add on 30-minute class time per day until the total time is made up. But the district relies heavily on busing, Davis said, and also is required to bus charter-school students to their schools, so adding time on to the end of each day would wreak havoc on the district’s transportation schedule.

The plan devised to make up the time “is the best we can do given the situation and current law,” Davis said.

There is more information about the makeup plan on the district’s website, www.woodridge.k12.oh.us, and on its Facebook page.

In other business, the board approved the retirement, “with regret,” of Woodridge Primary School Principal Karen Sykes in July. Board members also approved three-year contracts for Director of Pupil Services Valerie Riedthaler, Director of Academic Services Kirk Bennett, Woodridge High School Principal Joel Morgan, Athletics/Activities Director Nick Mayer and Director of Technology Eric Unangst, all effective Aug. 1.

Three-year contracts also were approved for Frank Margida, transportation supervisor, and Mike Priddy, buildings and grounds supervisor.

The board’s next meeting will be a district-wide facilities assessment and planning session. Woodridge community members are invited to see the results of the questionnaire from the February community meeting and discuss options for the buildings presented by Braun & Steidl Architects and Warner Concepts. The meeting will be held April 10 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the auditeria at Woodridge High School, 4440 Quick Road.

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for April 15 at 6 p.m. in the library of Woodridge High School.

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