Kentucky's House appears poised to approve 10 snow day waivers
Rep. John Will Stacy
Democratic Rep. Rick Rand
FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - School districts, a handful of which have been closed nearly as often as they've been open this winter, would not have to make up some snow days under a proposal poised to advance in Kentucky's House.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. John Will Stacy, D-West Liberty, is scheduled for a committee hearing Tuesday. It would call on the state's education commissioner to grant waivers for up to 10 calamity days, such as weather-related cancellations.
"School administrators shouldn't be put in the place of having to decide between the (required) number of days in a school year versus the safety of a child," Stacy said.
House leaders said they supported moving the measure quickly to provide school administrators with scheduling relief. But Senate President Robert Stivers said the waiver shouldn't be automatic for every district.
House lawmakers debated Monday whether to include the issue in the state budget, where its passage is more likely but potentially slower, or allow the measure to go through the legislative process on its own.
"We probably will have language in the budget," said Democratic Rep. Rick Rand, who chairs the budget-writing committee. "I know Rep. Stacy has a separate bill. But we usually do them (in the budget) in case a bill doesn't pass."
Stacy and House Speaker Greg Stumbo said they had concerns about doing it that way because the budget is often one of the last things approved before lawmakers leave Frankfort in April.
"I think we need to send something to the school districts before that so they can start planning their calendars," Stumbo said. "We're going to try to get something moving this week."
Stivers said he agreed that the legislature needs to provide some relief to school districts, but it shouldn't be automatic for every district.
Instead, districts like those in Eastern Kentucky that have missed 30 days should get all 10, but others should get fewer, Stivers said.
"I don't know if (an across-the-board waiver) is really appropriate, because some schools have only missed 10 days," Stivers said. "I think we're going to have to come up with a different mechanism for this distribution, or forgiveness of days."
Jefferson County Public Schools have missed 11 days because of snow and ice.
Stumbo said he disagreed that students' learning would be harmed by not making up all of the missed days.
"I don't think kids going to school in July are as receptive to learning as if you get them out in June and get them a summer vacation," Stumbo said.