LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – Michigan school districts that lost school days during the frigid blast we had earlier this year now have the option to not make up four of those days under legislation that cleared the legislature today.
The impact of that arctic cold spell at the end of January has left school districts scrambling to determine how many of the days they have to add to the end of the school calendar.
Parents are in limbo as to when the summer vacation would start.
The state Senate and House have taken action to let schools finalize their school year.
“This bill with this emergency forgiveness is very important for hundreds of districts across the state,” says Peter Spadafore of the Michigan Association of Schools.
Here’s how it works…if schools, for example, were off 20 days, the State Education Department can forgive 13 of those days.
Now the legislature gives districts the option to add more days to that.
Republican State Sen. Mike Shirkey explains, “up to four days if they take those days off, so they have that option to do that.”
But a snafu almost killed this agreement as the Democrats wanted to include hourly workers who may or may not be paid for the days they lost.
“Those are our school bus drivers, janitors, folks making modest incomes and they missed 14 days of school and 14 days of pay and thats really tough,” said Julie Rowe of the Michigan Federation of Teachers.
Democrats tried to pay those workers, but Republicans refused to do that.
In the end, the Democrats concluded providing relief for the schools trumped the union issue.
“It was more important that the schools had an understanding of when they’ll be over with school,” said Democratic State Sen. Jim Ananich. “As a former teacher there is drivers training, summer school and it’s not something we wanted to make into a political football.”
The governor will sign the four day give back to schools.