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02-18-03: Local schools plowing up days off
Celina schools have no snow days remaining

The Daily Standard
    Celina City School students could be spending Easter break and a portion of summer vacation in their classrooms if the Grand Lake St. Marys area gets hit by additional snow, ice or fog this winter.
    Celina schools, the only city school in Mercer County, has used up all five of their state-allowed calamity days, Superintendent Fred Wiswell told The Daily Standard this morning.
    But even though the thought of making up days at Easter or tacking on extra days at the end of the school year sounds disheartening to most, student safety has to be the priority, Wiswell said.
    "Quite obviously our number one concern is safety. This morning for example, we were out bright and early checking out the roads and they were passable," he said. "They were also slick and snow-covered, and it was hard to see the edge lines."
    Celina schools, as well as every other school in Mercer County, held two-hour delays this morning to give bus drivers enough daylight and time to take it slow. St. Marys City Schools delayed classes only an hour this morning; New Bremen, Minster and New Knoxville began school today without any delays at all.
    Only four area schools have come close to using up as many days as Celina < Parkway Local, St. Henry Consolidated Local, Marion Local and St. Marys City schools have all closed on three occasions this school year. All the schools except Parkway closed both Nov. 22 for snow and Dec. 11 for ice. Parkway closed Nov. 22, and also Nov. 27 for fog and ice and Jan. 30 for fog, officials there said.
    Closed only two days with three days yet to spare this school year are Coldwater Exempted Village, Fort Recovery Local, Minster Local, New Bremen Local and New Knoxville Local schools.
    Parkway has racked up the most delay days with eight, however, Marion Local comes in a close second with seven including this morning's two-hour delay. Fog has been responsible for nearly as many delayed and canceled days as snow and ice, school officials noted.
    "Fog is a challenging aspect to deal with," Wiswell said. "It can be crystal clear out, then just like that you drive into a complete dense fog and you can't see anything in front of you."
    State law requires schools to be open for at least 182 days in each school year. A handful of school districts build in a cushion by scheduling more than 182 days, but for most districts, any more than five days of canceled school means the district must make up days later in the year.     Wiswell said deciding whether to cancel school will always be a tough decision for school districts.
    "This year we feel if we erred, we erred on the side of caution and we can live with that," he said.


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