Some Districts Hope For Snow Day Waiver Legislation

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Students across Mid-Michigan are now waking up to their 6th or 7th snow day. Districts only get 6 days before they have to start making them up, and now that many of them are over the limit, and it's not even February yet, what options do they have? Michigan state law mandates that students attend school for 180 days a year, so schools will have to make that happen, regardless of how many more snow days they have.

Hallways and classrooms are quiet again this morning. "Schools can have six days off for situations out of their control like weather," said Martin Ackley, Spokesperson, Michigan Dept. of Education. But for most schools today is the sixth or even seventh day off.

"That means that you're gonna go to school a little bit more when the sun is shining in June," said Stanley S. Kogut, Ingham ISD Superintendent.

Districts can also chose to add minutes to the school day. "That's totally up to the school districts in how they make that day up," said Ackley. But winter is only one-third over. One day could quickly become one week of make-up days, and unlike schools in some other states, Michigan districts cannot request waivers that would prevent them from having to make up every missed day, unless the cancellation happens in the spring.

"If a day happens after April first of each year the discretion is left up to the State Superintendent to provide for that day off. But it has to be after April first. That's how the state law is written," said Ackley.

But an exception was made last year. A 1-year bill was passed for districts impacted by flooding in March. They could request waivers, and in some cases didn't have to make up the days. Some superintendents say they hope similar legislation is proposed this year, so they don't have to tack on too many days.

"I don't think we need it for most years, certainly it's nice to have the option, but it makes more sense to me when we have these unique years to then put the waiver in effect," said Kogut.

And a unique year this is, with a winter chill that could freeze up some of summer vacation.