Lawmakers consider bill to give schools snow day flexibility

While children rejoiced in the extra days off, northern Michigan school districts have been saddled with above average amounts of snow days.

With heavy snowfall this winter, school districts are saddled with an above average amount of snow days.

Lawmakers are considering legislation that could give schools the option to lengthen their school day for the rest of the year instead of adding full days to their calendar in June.

Currently, under state law, schools are required to provide students a minimum of 170 days of instruction per year with a total of 1,098 hours.

House Bill 4471, co-sponsored by state Rep. Greg MacMaster, adjusts the law for 2012-2013 only if a district is unable to meet the day requirement because of school closures that took place prior to April 15 as long as the time requirement is met.

"The severe winter weather we experienced this season led to many northern school districts racking up double-digit snow days to keep our children safe and that has put them below the minimum of instructional days," said MacMaster, R-Kewadin. "Making up that time in June could really adversely affect parents' day care plans for their work schedules, summer vacations or activities already booked, and the local tourism that our communities' economies rely on."

The change could save districts $50,000 to $200,000 based on size and transportation costs.

Eligible schools listed in the bill have had closures based on severe storms, fires, epidemics, utility power outages, water or sewer failure, or health conditions as defined by the city, county or state health authorities.

MacMaster is hoping for quick passage of the bill, so school have enough time to consider whether they will use the measure. It will go before the House Education Committee on Wednesday and could be considered by the full House as early as Thursday.