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Ohio Senate passes “snow day” bill

Kids everywhere cheered. Or they would have, if they’d joined the state Senate on Tuesday when it passed the “snow day” bill 32-1.

The bill is now two steps away from permanently restoring the number of excused annual calamity days to five, up from three at the beginning of this school year.

The House passed the bill earlier this month.

The Senate voted 28-5 to add an amendment declaring the act an “emergency measure necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, and safety.”

If the House passes the current legislation and Gov. John Kasich signs it, the law will go into immediate effect.

Former Gov. Ted Strickland cut two calamity days for the 2010-2011 school year. But hazardous weather conditions this winter closed schools again and again across Ohio, and many districts exceeded the three-day limit.

If the bill passes, school districts will be required to make up all missed days beyond the first five—but not as whole school days at the end of the year. In order to meet state minimum standards for the number of school days and hours of instruction, schools will be allowed to assign lessons online or to lengthen remaining school days in half-hour increments.

In selecting the method of making up hours, the bill assigns discretion to the individual school districts, not the Department of Education. Students without access to computers will be accommodated.