State lawmakers could begin negotiations on school 'snow days' bill Friday

syoungman@herald-leader.comMarch 20, 2014 

The Kentucky State Capitol building in Frankfort.

SAM RICHE — Lexington Herald-Leader Buy Photo

FRANKFORT — State lawmakers hope to resolve Friday a plan to give relief to school districts that have missed several weeks of school due to winter weather.

The Senate decided Thursday not to back away from its proposed plan, which the House refused to accept earlier this week.

Since the two chambers are at odds on the issue, the Senate named its members to a conference committee made up of representatives from both chambers that will try to negotiate a compromise. The House is expected to announce its conferees Friday morning. The committee could begin its work shortly afterwards.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said Rep. John Will Stacey, D-West Liberty, will chair the conference committee for the House.

The Senate conferees are Senate Minority Leader R.J. Palmer, D-Winchester; Senate Education Chairman Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green; and Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg.

Under the Senate's plan, school boards could submit revised calendars to the state education commissioner that include longer school days to make up for lost instructional time. If districts still can't make up all lost time, school boards could request a waiver from the required 1,062 instructional hours in a school year.

The House's version would waive up to 10 missed instructional days for all school districts.

"Hopefully the conference committee gets something worked out," said Stumbo.

He said a possible solution is for the two chambers to accept the House plan for a short-term solution and then implement "something more definitive, as the Senate wants, for the future."

Asked for his reaction to state Education Commissioner Terry Holliday's preference for the Senate bill, Stumbo responded: "He can lobby for his bill over here if he wants to, but I don't think he's going to get many sympathetic ears."

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said schools "need to have certainty so they can go ahead with their calendars for the rest of the year."

Some school districts, especially in Eastern Kentucky, have missed more than 30 days.

Sam Youngman: (502) 875-3793. Twitter: @samyoungman. Blog: bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com

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