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Sylvania Schools Superintendent Brad Rieger talked to a group of parents on Wednesday about the difficulties in scheduling makeup days for the high number of calamity days the district has had this winter from snow and bitter cold.
“We looked at President’s Day, but there are locked-in plans for staff and parents,” Mr. Rieger said about changing Monday's scheduled day off into a classroom makeup day.
He said he is not considering Saturday classes for make up days or tapping days during the scheduled spring break.
A guest this month's Sylvania Schools Parent Organization meeting, Mr. Rieger said the quality of the instructional day weighed heavily on how to make up for the loss of lessons from the frigid weather.
Children in the elementary level have used seven calamity days beyond the district’s five that are built into the calendar, he said. Junior high and high school students have had six more than the built-in five, he said.
Ruthann Finch, a parent, asked whether having an instructional day on Good Friday was an option, but Mr. Rieger said that, because it was a religious holiday observed by a majority of families, it would not be a good choice.
The district normally adds extra days at the end of the school calendar on June 4. A regularly scheduled professional development day for staff Feb. 18 will instead be used as an instruction day to reduce the days tacked on at the end of the year by one.
The Ohio General Assembly is considering a bill to allow four more calamity days, which would reduce the number of days the district would need to make up at the end of the school year.
Also at the gathering of parent representatives of each school in the district, Adam Fineske, executive director of curriculum for the district, announced the Ohio Department of Education has extended the testing period by a week for the Ohio Achievement Assessment, previously scheduled from April 21 to May 9. It is taken by third and eighth graders.
“That will add a week of instructional time,” he said.
Mr. Rieger and treasurer Laura Sauber also talked to the parents about why the district is placing a 3.8-mill operating levy on the May 6 ballot.
The school board voted unanimously last month to place it on ballot. A continuing levy, if passed by voters, it would add $133 to the annual property tax for the owner of a $100,000 home in the district.
Without the new tax, district officials forecast a deficit starting at $1.4 million at the end of the 2015-16 school year. They attribute the shortfall to decreased state education funding, declining property values, and rising expenses for supplies related to new state curriculum standards as well as for safety and security measures.
Alisa Keck, who has two children in the district, told Mr. Rieger that her son comes home everyday saying he had “the best day ever.”
“As long as my kids continue to say it is the ‘best day ever,’ I will continue to support the school,” she said.