Springfield schools nearly out of snow days

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Students at Springfield City Schools only have two more "calamity days" before they will have to make up classes in the summer.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Urbana city schools to attend classes on President’s Day to make up for classes cancelled due to weather.

Springfield City School District is getting close to having to make up days missed due to winter weather and Urbana City Schools will have to add time.

Ohio requires seventh grade through 12th grade students to attended at least 1,001 hours of school year. Students in kindergarten through sixth grade must attend at least 910 hours of school a year.

So far Springfield City students have missed 36 hours of school this year, according to district spokeswoman Cherie Moore. Springfield has more instructional hours scheduled than required, Superintendent Bob Hill said, but seventh through 11th grade students can only miss 13 more hours, about two more days.

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“That’s kind of the issue,” Hill said. “I’m hoping we may get through these next couple of weeks and we are OK.”

Each school day has six instructional hours, Hill said.

Springfield High School seniors typically get out of school three days earlier than the rest of their peers. But because of the snow days and delays, right now they will only get off two days before the rest of students. And if more days are missed, they will have to make up those days at the end of the year.

The elementary and primary school students are still in good shape, Hill said.

Winter weather doesn’t help students prepare for mandatory state tests either, Moore said. State tests are given in March and April after schools close for inclement weather in the previous two months.

“The district is confident that teachers are taking the reduced hours of classroom instruction into consideration as they plan and prioritize lessons, ensuring that students are prepared for upcoming state testing,” she said.

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State testing and missing days are on the minds of Urbana board members when the district is developing its school calendar, Urbana City Superintendent Charles Thiel said.

“For the past few years, the board has adopted a calendar that requires we makeup either the first one or two calamity days in order to get more instructional time prior to state testing and in an attempt to avoid adding days to the end of the school year,” Thiel said.

Urbana City has missed four days and has had five two-hour delays so far this year and will attend classes on President’s Day as a result. Urbana has missed a total 35 hours so far this school year, but still has 31.75 hours left before hitting the minimum of 1,001 hours, Thiel said.

But the district doesn’t go by state standards, Thiel said, and board policy mandates that after five missed school days the district must make up any additional days.

“Since the implementation of instructional hours by the state, our district has taken the stance that the minimum hours of instruction is not enough to provide adequate educational programming for our students and parents so we have pretty much kept to the previous format,” Thiel said.

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The decision to cancel classes isn’t easy, Hill said.

Each superintendent must go through a long process before deciding whether to close, Hill said. It includes waking up about 4 a.m. and checking the forecasts, driving the streets, and keeping in contact with transportation and maintenance supervisors.

“Closing schools is one of the most difficult decisions that we have to make as superintendent,” Hill said.

The choice is high-stakes for many Springfield students, too, Hill said, because a percentage of the district’s kids rely on school meals.

“With us being a high poverty district, we serve free breakfast and lunch to our students,” Hill said. “If I don’t open the doors, there will be a percentage that may or not receive meals that day. So if I can open the doors, I am because our students will have a safe, warm place and be able to eat.”

Safety is a priority when making the decision, Hill said, but the food situation can be troubling.

At least one district in the Miami Valley has ran out of snow days. Fairborn City Schools has used all of its calamity days, which means it will have to tack on extra days at the end of the year.

By the numbers

36: Hours missed of schools by Springfield City School District so far this school year.

13: Hours left before Springfield City schools will have to make up time.

1,001: Hours students in seventh through 12th grade must be in school each year by Ohio law.

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