FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) – Board members at Jefferson County Public Schools on Monday approved a date for the last day of school, after lawmakers declared that a bill providing relief for snow makeup days will not pass the General Assembly this session.
Sen. Mike Wilson, the chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said negotiations between the House and Senate "are dead."
"It's really a blow for us," Wilson said late Monday. "I felt like we were very close and that we'd be able to get everything together and worked out."
Late Monday night, JCPS administrators approved June 12 as the district's last day of school and also agreed to set graduation dates. JCPS has missed 11 days because of bad weather this winter.
The main sticking points for the House and Senate were what the last day of school should be and how much power to grant Kentucky's education commissioner in denying districts' waiver requests.
Negotiators from both chambers on Friday approved June 11 as the last school day statewide. But senators wanted the last day of school to be June 13, and the House then came back with a June 1 ending date, Wilson said.
The House also didn't support the Senate's request that Education Commissioner Terry Holliday be allowed to deny snow day waiver requests, saying it would take too long.
"They have some feelings toward the commissioner than I can't explain," said Sen. David Givens, a Republican who has led the Senate's effort on snow makeup days. "You'll have to ask them why they didn't want the flexibility component."
The day began with optimism that the issue, which had been stuck in negotiations for two weeks, could get to Gov. Steve Beshear's desk by the end of the day.
Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo said around 4 p.m. Monday that he expected lawmakers in both chambers to approve a snow makeup day bill. But neither the House or Senate voted and, after session adjourned 90 minutes later, Wilson told reporters the bill was dead.
Stumbo said the House and Senate could still appoint new negotiators to work out an agreement.
"We'd be willingto do that, I think it's that important of an issue," Stumbo said. "Everybody ought to pull back from where they are and pass something that's reasonable. I think it's a shame that kids are going to have to go to school up untilJuly."
Some districts in Eastern Kentucky have missed up to 34 days because of snow and ice. Districts that have missed more than 20 days may apply to Holliday for relief, but JCPS and others that have missed fewer days must make them all up.
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