Skubick: House committee okays school snow days limit revision

Michigan

A House committee has passed legislation that would not force school districts to make up the days they lost due to bad weather.  

While educators applaud the action, union workers at the schools are not happy they weren’t included in the measure.

School districts that closed during the frigid state of emergency weather could get their snow days back under a measure that cleared the House Education Committee.

Hundreds of districts have blown through their regular six snow days and 500+ districts have requested three extra snow days.

The bill’s sponsor contends if districts don’t have those days off, districts won’t have to stay open into June when educating children is more challenging.

“I think its impact on schools because of the extraordinary season. We have some districts using teens or mid-teens in days,” said Rep. Ben Frederick. “And I think theres a practical reality of what we can expect as far as instruction goes as we move into summer.”

The Republican committee chair voted “yes” but with some reservations.

“I have reservations,” said Rep. Pamela Hornberger. “I think kids need to be in school. We are low on the totem pole nationwide and everyday in the classroom is beneficial.”

The six Democrats voted “no” because hourly union workers were not included in the days they were off and that money will not be restored.

Union lobbyist Tim Greimel argues it’s a fairness issue.

“They should not be punished because of unexpected weather. Just as the district schools are not punished. The hourly support staff depends on that income.”

But Republican State Rep. Rodney Wakeman argues union members should bargain for those days off in their contract and lawmakers should not interfere with local control.

“This is a local control issue in the strongest sense. This particularly needs to remain in the local control realm. Believe me I feel for these folks who are missing out on those days that they were off, but that was not my reason for voting no.”

The measure goes to another House committee for more review but is expected to pass.

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