In the Royal Oak School District, Wednesday marked the fifth straight day that snow and wind chill advisories kept students from returning from their holiday break.
The number of cancelations has left many parents and guardians wondering how the district plans to make up the time.
By state rules, Michigan school districts are required to provide 1,098 hours of instruction over the course of at least 170 days.
Previously, Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation allowing schools with too many snow days to avoid having to schedule extra days in the summer.
According to Public Act 29 of 2013, school districts that weren't open at least 170 days could continue receiving state funding, as long as they still met the 1,098-hour minimum, which meant school districts that had more than six snow days could hold longer days for the remainder of the school year instead of adding days.
The law only applied only to the 2012-2013 school year. It would take another act of the legislature for such flexibility to be available during the 2013-2014 school year.
"In Royal Oak, because we already offer above the state minimum hours of student instruction, if the legislature again provides this flexibility we could use it if needed without currently needing to lengthen the school day," said Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin.
Yesterday, recognizing the need to do so, Lewis-Lakin said he communicated with persons in Lansing as well as some area colleagues regarding a desire for legislation providing for such flexibility to again be brought to the attention of legislators.
Ask the Super
In case you missed it, Lewis-Lakin addressed concerns regarding cancellations and the school calendar on Tuesday. Here's what he had to say to the following questions:
We’ve had (five) school cancellation days due to weather. Does this mean our calendar year will be extended?
According to state rules, “the first six days (or equivalent hours) of scheduled pupil instruction that is not provided because of conditions not within the control of school authorities such as severe storms, fires, health conditions, and infrastructure issues, shall be counted towards meeting days and hours of instruction requirements.” We are allowed six days. Also, since Royal Oak operates according to a calendar that provides for more than the state minimum number of days and hours of instruction we may have additional leeway.
Will the fact that we may only have (one) possible school cancellation day left impact decision making moving forward?
No, the criteria for making decisions continues to be student safety. With reasonable care, will families be safe driving and will children who walk to school be able to do so safely? If safety demands that we close for more than (one) additional day this school year, there is a process for adding days to the calendar, most likely by extending student attendance days in June.
Editor's note: This article has been corrected. The legislation Gov. Rick Snyder signed applied to the 2012-2013 school year.