FRANKFORT — Senate and House negotiators, working on a bill to give school districts flexibility in making up snow days, each accused the other of moving the goal posts – but it’s the local school districts who may be penalized.
A severe winter led to some districts missing as many as 35 school days, making it difficult to meet the state mandate of 1,062 hours of instruction for the year and ending school before summer vacations begin for many families.
The two chambers passed different versions of measures to allow districts some relief, with the Senate seeking to ensure districts use every reasonable measure to meet the 1,062 hours while the House plan made it easier for affected districts to waive up to 10 days.
A conference committee made up of members from both chambers and headed by Rep. John Will Stacy, D-West Liberty, of the House and Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, of the Senate, began negotiating Friday and appeared close to an agreement by mid-day.
As described Friday by Stacy and Wilson, the compromise would “encourage” districts to find ways to meet the 1,062 hours and allow them to attend school on primary Election Day if no school in the district is used as a polling place; add time to the school day so long as the day didn’t exceed seven hours; and setting a concrete deadline for the end of school by June 11.
But those districts which still couldn’t reach 1,062 hours under that plan would be able to waive up to 10 days – and could do so without appealing to Education Commissioner Dr. Terry Holliday.
But over the weekend, lawmakers checked with school districts to see how it would work for them, Stacy said, and most said it provided little help. Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, also said word coming back from districts over the weekend indicated many couldn’t reach the 1,062 hours by June 11.