Ionia superintendent concerned about pending snow days legislation

Posted at 5:44 PM, Apr 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-29 17:45:14-04

IONIA, Mich. — Winter may have ended weeks ago, but snow days are still impacting local schools.

With the end of the year approaching, superintendents are eager to hear if the legislature will forgive some of those days or if their students will spend the start of summer break in the classroom.

Ionia Public Schools Superintendent Ron Wilson is one of them.

With 19 snow days used in his district and only nine forgiven, he says school may not end until the second week of June, opening a long list of other problems.

"A lot of the concern comes from what the heat index is going to be in those buildings during the second and third week in June," says Wilson.

Michigan schools are automatically given six days for weather and can apply for a waiver for three more, which Wilson did.

But an arctic blast in late January shut down many normal activities including school. At the end of it all, Ionia used 19 snow days.

"There's 10 additional days that are unforgiven. At this point, I've let the parents know that this is out of my hands. This is not something I can fix for them," Wilson said.

But, House Bill 4206 might do the trick. The bill would forgive snow days that fell during the governor’s state of emergency. It would also allow schools with more than 14 snow days to add 30-minute increments to scheduled days to complete the 1098 hours requirement.

The House OK'd the bill nearly two weeks ago, but members of the senate have some concerns.

"We have kids who are going to be going forward who know the grade level subject matter that now they may be missing if they don't have time to adjust their schedules," says State Sen. John Bizon, R- Battle Creek.

Bizon says the Senate has sent back a recommendation to the House to allow four additional days instead. But Wilson wants to see action before it's too late.

"You need to take action on this promptly because when it gets into June, you're so far gone you're not going to be able to fix the problem," Wilson says.

Wilson added this is not only an issue of missed summer activities and hot classrooms, but also a financial one. The district could lose state aid per day for those that aren't made up.