Worried about snow days? Change in Ohio law gives school districts more flexibility

WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Chill Hill at Voice of America Park earned its name Monday, with children putting the popular sledding spot through the paces. They were off for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday -- for many, a four-day weekend after Friday's snow day.

And with more snow and frigid temperatures on the way, many districts were weighing whether to close Tuesday, as well.

In the past, all those snow days might have meant makeup time come spring. That's not true anymore, because Ohio changed its requirements a few years ago. Instead of school days, the state now requires a certain number of hours -- and districts can build extra hours into their existing schedules to make up for snow days.

Specifically, school districts, joint vocational school districts and chartered nonpublic schools have to be open for a minimum of:

  • 455 hours for students in half-day kindergarten;
  • 910 hours for students in full-day kindergarten through sixth grade; and
  • 1,001 hours for students in seventh through 12th grades.

"That gave schools a lot more flexibility and allowed us to not be in that kind of crazy scramble of worrying about the number of snow days," said Tracey Carson, Mason City Schools spokeswoman.

Kentucky districts also have a system by which extra time is built in. For example, Kenton County has five built-in days; its students will be off Tuesday, which makes three used so far.

Technically, the change does amount to less required time in school for Ohio districts, but they're still meeting the curriculum. Carson said Mason schools exceed the number of required hours.

Pinky Jha, a mother who spent Monday at Chill Hill, isn't worried about the number of snow days.

"As long as the curriculum is covered in that one year, however they do it it's fine," Jha said.

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