Ky. Senate, House reach tentative compromise on snow-days bill

jbrammer@herald-leader.comMarch 21, 2014 

A snowplow cleared North Limestone in Lexington on March 3, 2014.

PHOTO BY PABLO ALCALA | STAFF — Lexington Herald-Leader Buy Photo

FRANKFORT — House and Senate negotiators came up with a tentative plan Friday to provide relief for school districts that have missed several weeks of classes because of winter weather.

The plan produced by a House-Senate conference committee would end the school year on June 11 for all school districts in the state, including those that have not reach the state-mandated 1,062 hours of instruction in the academic year.

In addition, all school districts could extend the length of their remaining days in an attempt to reach 1,062 hours of instruction. However, no school day could include more than seven instructional hours, and schools could not hold classes on Saturday to make up lost time.

Rep. John Will Stacy, D-West Liberty, said he thinks every school district will make a good-faith effort to reach the required 1,062 hours. The legislation would be good only for this year, he said, adding that school boards — not the state Department of Education — would decide how much time is appropriate to add to school days.

Some school districts, especially those in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, have missed more than 30 school days because of bad weather.

The negotiators will present their tentative plan Monday to party caucuses in both the House and Senate. If there is agreement on the working plan between the two chambers, the legislation could be presented to Gov. Steve Beshear Monday night, Stacy said.

Stacy described the plan as "sort of a middle ground, and it gives certainty to the last day of school."

Stacy and Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, said legislative staffers will try to determine over the weekend how the working plan would affect school districts.

"It may not work for some districts that have missed a great deal of days," Stacy said.

The House-Senate conference committee met for the first time Friday to resolve differences between the two chambers.

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

Under the Senate's earlier 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 1,062-hour mandate.

The House's earlier plan would waive as many as 10 missed instructional days for all school districts.

Both Stacy and Wilson said Friday that the legislature needs to further study how school districts can better deal with problems caused by inclement weather in future years.

Jack Brammer: (502) 227-1198. Twitter: @BGPolitics. Blog: Bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com.

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