VanderWall supports school ‘snow day’ flexibility

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Curt VanderWall on Tuesday supported legislation to give more flexibility to many schools that were forced to cancel several school days this winter due to unusually harsh weather.

“Getting our kids to and from school safely during extreme weather is our top priority,” said VanderWall, R-Ludington. “Because of unusual winter weather, several school days were canceled this year. This measure strikes the proper balance between protecting students and ensuring they get the teaching they need.”

VanderWall said that House Bill 4206 is a one-time forgiveness solution that only applies to the current 2018-19 school year due to the especially extreme weather Michigan faced this winter.

Senate Democrats voted in favor of the bill, but they did not support giving it immediate effect, which means the plan will not be in place for this school year.

“It is very unfortunate that this bill will not be able to help schools as they deal with their scheduling,” VanderWall said. “Because Democrats withheld immediate effect, schools will not be able to adjust the school calendar, and parents do not know when the school year will end.”

Michigan requires schools to provide a minimum of 180 days and 1,098 hours of instruction per year. Schools are currently forgiven up to six “snow days” when school is canceled due to dangerous weather, and schools can get a waiver from the state superintendent for three additional forgiven snow days.

If HB 4026 had been given immediate effect, it would have effectively forgiven schools up to four additional snow days this year for any days schools canceled during the governor’s declared state of emergency (Jan. 29 through Feb. 1).