School districts look to get extra allotment of ‘snow days’

Posted at 4:23 PM, Feb 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-01 16:23:42-05

ROCKFORD, Mich. - This week's winter weather forced thousands of schools across the state to shut down, forcing many districts to exhaust their allotment of snow days.

So, does that mean districts will have to add school days to the summer?

Extending the school year into the summer can conflict with family schedules, teens starting summer jobs and excessive heat in the classroom.  Local districts are looking at two options to limit how many days they'll need to make up.

Rockford Public Schools have passed their allotted six snow days that are allowed by the state each year. Dr. Michael Shibler, the Rockford superintendent, says that this week was the worst he's seen in his 51 years of education.  They've used nine snow days so far.

Dr. Shibler says that they've made the right call to keep students safe from the brutal cold and dangerous roads, but he doesn't want them to have to make up the days come June. Rockford is one of many schools in the area applying to a waiver from the state to allow for up to three extra snow days.

"That's not going to help a lot of districts in Michigan," Shibler told FOX 17 Friday. "There are a number of districts that have gone over their six days, and we've got February, March and part of April to go through, so, there's got to be another alternative, and there is."

Shibler says that in 2013 there were a lot of snow days and the state legislature felt compelled to pass a bill allowing even more snow days that year. He believes that set a precedent, which could help out this year.

Governor Rick Snyder signed that bill into effect for 2013, and Shibler hopes that Governor Gretchen Whitmer would do the same, especially since she declared a state of emergency for Michigan last week. However, the interim state superintendent has said that the declaration does not call for a mandatory closure of schools.