BCS addresses calamity day plans

Straight A Grant introduced


As the mercury continues to drop below zero today, Bellefontaine City Schools Board of Education members discussed calamity day make-up plans at their Monday evening board of education meeting.

With today’s school cancellation, the district has used nine calamity days this school year.

Schools in Ohio are allotted five calamity days per year. However, they are also given the option to add three additional days — taking the total to eight calamity days — if students make up school work through various options.

Bellefontaine City Schools has taken advantage of this “blizzard bag” option to make up days 6-8, with homework assignments available to students online through the district’s Web site, www.bellefontaine.k12.oh.us.

Now with this ninth school cancellation, the district will need to make up at least one day.

Superintendent Beth Harman said the first five days to be made up will be added to the end of the school year, according to the current negotiated agreement with the Bellefontaine Education Association. Any days beyond the first five then would be taken from the district’s spring break.

With schools closed again, governor calls for calamity day increase


Examiner Staff Writer

Most area schools had canceled class by Monday evening, anticipating frigid weather that saw actual air temperatures hover near -15 degrees Fahrenheit early today.

Districts by now have each exceeded their allotted number of calamity days, even when factoring for leeway offered with the “blizzard bags” option of assigning work to be completed online or after the return of school if students have no online connection.

Gov. John Kasich issued a press release Monday calling for legislators to temporarily increase the number of calamity days for Ohio schools. The governor “urged the Ohio General Assembly and Ohio Department of Education to work together on legislation providing a one-time increase in the number of days that schools can take off because of snow or bad weather.”

Gov. Kasich said a one-time increase of even just a few days is needed because so many schools in Ohio have already exceeded their five calamity days.

“School closures can, of course, be an inconvenience, but student safety always comes first,” Gov. Kasich said. “Many schools have already hit the maximum number of snow days, or will soon, and if they exceed it and have to extend the school year it can wreak havoc with schools’ budgets and schedules.

“Giving schools a few extra snow days this year will be helpful and let everyone stay focused on the top priority when weather hits, keeping kids safe.”

According to the Ohio Department of Education, state law requires school districts be in session at least 175 days. Next year, the law changes to measure the number of hours in class, rather than days, which will allow schools to add time to the school day in order to make up for bad weather.

Monday, Gov. John R. Kasich made an announcement that could help BCS and many other area schools with this issue. (See accompanying story.)

During the committee of the whole report, Mrs. Harman reported on some of the details of the district’s receipt of the Straight A Grant through the Ohio Department of Education’s competition, which was previously reported in the Examiner.

BCS applied for this grant in partnership with the Ohio Appalachian Collaborative Personalized Learning Network that includes 26 rural districts and a credit recovery high school, each with a poverty rate of about 50 percent. Together, these schools serve 48,000 students.

The local school district will receive $548,000 in funds from the nearly $15 million grant to help meet various goals of supporting personalized learning and providing opportunities for more students to be successful in technical and in two- and/or four-year postsecondary education.

The superintendent said for BCS, the grant will help to provide increased teacher training for dual enrollment courses in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (also known as STEM), business, arts, health and human services.

It also will provide for the implementation of project-based learning and blended learning initiatives, and the incorporation of technology resources for grades 6-12. For the technology end, the district is looking at upgrading wireless capacity at the high school this summer.

To put these plans into practice, meetings are currently taking place with representatives from the Ohio Appalachian Collaborative Personalized Learning Network, involving superintendents, treasurers and technology coordinators among others.

In recognition of board appreciation month, Mrs. Harman also presented gifts to board members that were created by students.

“Thank you for sharing your time and your talents for the betterment of our schools,” she said.

In other action, the board:

• extended supplemental contracts to Benjamin Davis, head boys/girls track; Garth Miller and Larry Young, assistant track; Tobin Smith, Marcus St. Clair and Ryan Ormsbee, assistant baseball;

• accepted the supplemental contract resignation of Christy Garver, assistant girls track, and extended a supplemental contract to her for assistant middle school girls track;

• approved Brad Jones as a volunteer assistant baseball coach;

• approved the following teachers to serve as home instruction/tutors at the rate of $18 per hour: Vanessa Bumgardner, Kim Cayot, Ashley Patterson, Stacy Penhorwood, Linda Peters, Joni Siler, Joan Smith and Sue Steffen;

• approved the following classified staff members to serve as school tutors at the rate of $15 per hour: Hannah Abdalla, Yvonne Gorham, Rosemary LaBatt and Kirsten Leasure;

• appointed Jill Jones-Appleton to serve as a cook effective Jan. 27; and

• approved changes in time status for Teresa George, cook, to 5.5 hours; and Kim Rister, cook, to three hours.

The next meeting is 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 10, at Bellefontaine Middle School, where the talents of the Bellefontaine robotics team will be showcased.