COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- The Ohio Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to let schools take up to four additional days off this year because of severe winter weather this year.
The Senate version of the bill actually gives schools three additional calamity days, but they'll get a fourth for teachers to take a professional development day. Schools can't use the extra days until they've already made-up missed days on four of the five make-up days built into their school calenders.
"It is time to give our schools an answer on this question because the winter is flying by, there may be additional calamity days yet to be taken and certainly some to be made up," said Sen. Peggy Lehner, a Republican from Kettering who chairs the Senate Education Committee.
Most every school district has already used up the already allocated five calamity days this year. In fact, a survey by the Buckeye Association of School Administrators found the average number of days off was 9 around the state. Some eastern Ohio districts have used double that.
The bill passed as an emergency, meaning that once it is signed by Gov. John Kasich it would immediately take effect. Differences with a House version of the bill have to be worked out in a conference committee before Kasich will get it.
The House bill offered two additional calamity days and two teacher in-service days. Some Republicans in the House voiced concerns about paying teachers for days they weren't working.
Both versions also give districts the option to make up time missed by adding 30-minute increments to the end of the school day this year.
The Senate version of the bill also gave high school seniors an exemption from attending any make-up days scheduled after graduation.