Lawmakers mull over details of snow day forgiveness

Kent County

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — While lawmakers in Lansing are considering a reprieve for schools that have racked up a lot of snow days this year, they’re torn over how to do it.

Legislators want to ensure students get enough classroom time to be prepared to move onto the next grade while getting them out of school before mid-June.

“It’s not just an ‘X’ or an ‘O’ decision. I mean, these are a lot of factors that go into this,” said Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich of Flint.

Ananich is a former teacher, so he understands that figuring out how to make up or forgive all those missed days of school is a balancing act.

Republican Sen. Peter MacGregor of Rockford agrees: legislators want to strike the right balance for the students.

“That’s where the focus needs to be — it needs to be on the kids. What’s best for the kids, not the adults,” said MacGregor.

MacGregor represents Rockford — which has a public school district that’s already missed 15 days of school. He agrees the answer is not cut and dried.

“I’m hearing from a lot of different superintendents that, you know, (are) asking for some forgiveness. They’re not asking for every day off, like some of my colleagues are talking about. It’s ‘give us some forgiveness,’ and I’m pragmatic about this,” MacGregor said.

The proposals range from forgiving all the days missed to allowing schools to scratch the days that were declared an emergency by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer earlier this year.

“I think we should make the obvious decision and at least forgive those emergency days,” Ananich said.

If that happens, most schools would have 12 snow days forgiven: the regular six days allowed by the state, three others that can be granted by the Michigan Department of Education and three days during the emergency declaration.

The state education department already approved Rockford Public School’s three-day waiver, so if lawmakers go with the emergency declaration forgiveness proposal, Rockford students would only have to make up three days. One of those days is already built into the school calendar, meaning the school year would only be extended by two days in June.

But Rockford Superintendent Dr. Mike Shibler pointed out that it’s not even March yet in West Michigan, which means the number of snow days could grow.

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