LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Schools exceeding the maximum number of snow days would not have to make up those that occur during a state-declared emergency under legislation the Michigan House approved Wednesday.
The bill, approved 101-7, is aimed at aiding K-12 districts after frigid temperatures and other weather caused a high number of school cancellations this past winter. It will next go to the Senate, where a similar measure won committee approval this week.
"It really acknowledges the extraordinary winter that we've had and the number of snow days that schools are facing," said Rep. Ben Frederick, an Owosso Republican and bill sponsor. "This allows more flexibility... so that we can have a more sensible plan for an end date for the schools this year."
State law forgives districts from making up six days that have been canceled for emergencies, and schools can get a waiver from the state superintendent for three additional days. Many districts have already reached or exceeded nine snow days. Some are in the teens, which means their students could have at least an extra week of school in June.
The House legislation would exclude days that are canceled during state-declared emergencies from counting as snow days. The five-day period from Jan. 28 through Feb. 1 — when an arctic deep freeze shut down many normal activities, including school — would be forgiven statewide. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also declared an emergency for Ionia County in February.
The state requires a minimum of 1,098 hours of instruction over 180 days.
Under the bill, districts with 14 or more cancelations due to a state of emergency or other conditions beyond their control could qualify for an exemption from the 180-day minimum as long as they met the hours requirement. They would have to add instruction time to scheduled days in increments of at least 30 minutes.
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