Traverse City Record-Eagle

April 23, 2013

Some districts might need additional school days


---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Summer could get a little shorter for some local students, but not for those who attend Traverse City Area Public Schools.

TCAPS officials said they will not extend the 2013-14 school year past June 11, the originally scheduled last half-day of school, despite cancelling 10.5 days of instruction this year because of inclement weather.

State lawmakers and the Michigan Department of Education offer several exemptions and waivers that TCAPS will use to stick to its original year-end schedule, TCAPS Human Resources Executive Director Christine Davis said.

"They recognize it's been an unusual winter, so they give districts lots of options," Davis said.

The DOE forgives local districts for up to six days of canceled classes each year. Local school officials can apply for additional exemptions for days of canceled instruction after April 1, and can apply for up to 38 hours of teacher professional development time to count toward the state's minimum requirement for pupil instructional hours.

State law requires local districts to provide either 170 days of student instruction, or the number of instruction days provided by the district in the 2009-10 school year, depending on which total is greater.

Districts also must provide at least 1,098 hours of instruction to students each year. Districts that fail to comply with either requirement forfeit a portion of their state School Aid funding.

A piece of legislation in the Michigan House of Representatives aims to eliminate the requirement for days of instruction for the 2012-13 school year in light of the number of canceled days in districts statewide.

Kalkaska Public Schools Superintendent Lee Sandy said his district will need to schedule additional days of instruction if the pending legislation fails to win approval.

Kalkaska students missed seven days of instruction through the end of March and two days after April 1. Sandy said the district asked the DOE to waive the missed days in April, but the DOE has yet to respond.

"They may be waiting to see what the politicians do, too," Sandy said.

Administrators at Frankfort-Elberta Area Schools are in a similar situation, district Superintendent Tom Stobie said.

Frankfort-Elberta schools will fulfill the state's hourly requirements, but the district will need to schedule an additional half-day on June 10, the Monday after the district's original last day of June 7, if the legislation fails.

"I'm not sure educationally how sound that is," Stobie said.

Stobie did not know when lawmakers will vote on the legislation.

"If it was a lame duck session, we'd have it done in a couple days, but it's not lame duck so it's moving as slowly as it normally does," Stobie said.

State Rep. Phil Potvin, R-Cadillac, sponsored the bill. Potvin expects house members to approve the legislation through a vote today before sending it to the state Senate, where he expects it to also win approval.

"Talking to both my Democratic and Republican colleagues, there just doesn't seem to be a problem," Potvin said.