Winter continues to provide challenges for all of us including the use of dwindling calamity days. As of Monday, Feb. 3, Piqua City School District has expended six calamity days as a district. Springcreek Primary has used two additional days because of water problems in the fall. In a proactive action taken at the most recent board meeting on Jan. 30, the Piqua Board of Education, with support from the Piqua Education Association, approved a resolution to file a request for three alternativecalamity days. I have just completed our application and forwarded on to the Ohio Department of Education for approval. Alternate calamity days are more commonly known as “e-days”or blizzard bags.
If these additional three day are approved, each classroom teacher will develop three lessons for each course taught which require an amount of time equal to or greater than the amount of instructional time the student would receive for three school days in the teacher’s class. The lessons are posted on our district web site via a link on the front page as soon as practical after an announced school closure once we have run out of calamity days. Students are granted a two-week period from the date of posting to complete the lesson. If the student does not complete the lesson within this time period, the student will receive an incomplete or failing grade.
Students without access to a computer will be allowedto complete the posted lessons at school after the reopening of school. Students utilizing this option will be granted two weeks from the date of reopening to complete such lessons. Piqua City Schools will provide access to district computers before, during, or after the school day or may provide a substantially similar paper lesson “blizzard bags” in order for students to complete the assignments. Our professional staff will ensure that there are appropriate levels of validity, quality and integrity associated with these online lessons or the hardcopy alternatives in the “blizzard bags.”
Governor Kasich is also working with the state legislators to provide relief for schools through additional calamity days. That option is yet to be determined. We will keep parents informed as more information becomes available.
Winter has also been hard on our buildings. Unexpected maintenance is going to happen and we must be prepared so our buildings remain safe and students don’t miss additional school days. It also demonstrates the importance of the upcoming zero tax increase permanent improvement renewal levy on the May 6 ballot to help protect our community assets. Funds from this renewal levy go towards the maintenance of our buildings and it will not raise taxes.
In January, Piqua Junior High had an overhead bulk sprinkler head in the commons freeze which caused flooding but fortunately, thanks to our quick responding staff and Piqua Fire Department, the damage was limited.
Over the weekend the heating system at Piqua Junior High School experienced a 6” rubber coupler “blow-out” that dumped the boiler system water in a matter of minutes. Low water safety features automatically shut down boilers. The water leak occurred directly over two 480 volt circulating pump motors which were instantly shorted out electrically. Since the system is designed with 2 circulation pumps we were able to “valve off” the ruptured water loop but were left with no motor to circulate the water! Fortunately, during the Piqua High School HVAC renovation two years ago, several good motors were saved to be used as backups. One of them was a perfect fit and fix for the PJHS system. The system water was refilled, boilers fired back up and heat restored thanks to Slagle Mechanical and our own Eric Pence, Ron Tilton and Roger Ely.
These two unexpected incidents are examples of items we use permanent improvement funds to support. Our junior high and high school are great assets, which have needs,especially in a winter like the one we are having. Well-maintained school buildings provide a setting where quality education can occur and thanks to the ongoing support of our community, we are able to protect this vital need. It’s a worthy investment for us all.
Rick Hanes is the superintendent of the Piqua City School District. Rick continues to ensure that the Piqua City Schools show residents the “Good Schools, Good Value” that they are each day. You can follow him directly on Twitter @raheducator.