Garrettsville – A new state rule that eliminates calamity days and sets minimum classroom hours means little to the James A. Garfield Schools. The new hour-based schedule requires 1,001 hours each year for grades 7-12 and 910 hours for K-6. The provision was signed into law last year in Gov. John Kasich’s two-year budget plan and equates to around 100 hours less than our students currently attend. Most Ohio schools average 1,126 hours, based on 6 1/2 hour days at 180 days per year. To meet the minimum hours, schools would need to be in session only about 5 1/2 hours each day. Currently our elementary students have over 1,030 hours of instruction and our high school students have over 1,130 hours of instruction.
Meeting minimum hours is not OK. Whether it’s days or hours, we need time to educate our students and meet the mandates placed upon our students. It begs the question, “If education is valued, why would our state legislators want to minimize our school year?” This is a question we are still trying to understand.
In all aspects of our organization we exceed minimum expectations. Our test scores reflect teachers and students going above and beyond. The condition of our grounds and buildings reflects doing much more than just the minimum. With new testing for students, higher standards and the Third Grade Reading Guarantee, this is no time to lower our expectations to a minimum.
Garfield’s teacher contract does not expire until this summer so the hour-based legislation does not apply to this school year. This contract defines a number of days that far exceeds the minimum number of hours set forth by the state. So, regardless of what bar the state sets, our teachers will continue to set the bar for Garfield higher. While the state-issued calamity days have ceased, we have included makeup days in our calendar (at the end of the school year) if we miss more than five days due to weather.