With districts across the state at – or well beyond – the allowed number of snow days, lawmakers are beginning to debate allowing additional days, especially given the historic “polar vortex” that hit the Lower Peninsula last month.
Rep. Ben Frederick (R-Owosso) has introduced HB 4206, which aims to permanently waive days when schools are closed because of a state of emergency declared by the governor. Most of the state experienced four such days during record cold temperatures at the end of January.
Lawmakers from both parties, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, have voiced support for taking some kind of action related to the record cold days causing schools to be closed. The only way to get additional “snow days” granted is via the legislative process. MEA is working with lawmakers to ensure those changes make sense in the long haul – balancing the need for time in school with student and staff safety.
MEA is also concerned about the impact waiving these days will have on hourly employees who were not paid when schools were closed. If the days were made up, those employees – often part-time, lower-wage support staff – would make that up in later paychecks, but if the days are waived, some school districts could choose to pocket that money. MEA intends to continue advocating for those employees as legislative discussions continue.
HB 4206 has been assigned to the House Education Committee, where it could be taken up as soon as next week. Stay tuned for more developments.