LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — With about two months left in the school year for most districts, the question for many teachers, administrators, parents and students is how many days will they have to make up after a brutal winter.
Many school districts have racked up snow days into the double digits because of an Arctic blast that froze Michigan in January and February. The Legislature is looking for ways to help relieve the burden of making up those days well into June.
Generally, schools can call off six days without having to make up the time and can appeal to the state Department of Education for an additional three days off.
During a state House Ways and Means Committee meeting Wednesday, lawmakers discussed a bill that would allow for three more days, bring the total of 12.
>>Online: House Bill 4206
“At a time when we had a state of emergency when state government was closed down and there were urgent messages to keep in your homes and obviously close down schools as well during this state of emergency, why would we actually have days like that potentially count against the bank of days that are granted to schools?” bill sponsor Rep. Ben Frederick, R-Owosso, said.
The union that represents many hourly school employees like paraprofessionals, custodians, bus drivers and secretaries objected to the additional days off on the grounds that their contract does not allow for payment of days not worked.
“Most of our members, the large majority of our members, are not getting paid by school districts for missed days,” said Tim Greimel of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 25.
In the end, on a party-line vote, Ways and Means Republicans agreed to approve the measure, including an amendment that would allow for extending school days in half-hour increments to help offset some of the missed instruction time.
“We’ve heard a lot from our parents in our communities and what they’re saying is, ‘We’ve had a situation, we’ve had severe weather this winter and we’re looking for relief.’ And that’s exactly what this bill does,” committee Chairman Brandt Iden, R-Oshtemo, said.
The legislation now moves to the full House. If it’s successful there, it would move to the Senate.
School districts would prefer to know the outcome sooner rather than later in order to finalize schedules for the year.