Bill would let districts waive up to 10 school days

FRANKFORT — A Western Kentucky lawmaker plans to file a bill in coming days that would waive up to 10 missed school days in districts hard-hit by last week's winter ice storm. State Rep. Mike Cherry, whose district was hammered by the storm, said he plans to file the legislation as early as Wednesday.

Cherry, D-Princeton, said schools in the 95 counties which have declared a state of emergency would not have to reschedule up to 10 days that were missed because of the storm. The Kentucky Department of Education would also be allowed to give the 10-day waiver to school districts in neighboring counties that did not declare states of emergency. State law requires schools to provide students with 177 instructional days.

The 10-day waiver would also apply to schools that had to cancel classes when the remnants of Hurricane Ike ripped down power lines around the Louisville area in September, Cherry said.

Cherry noted that he is only in initial discussions with the Department of Education. “It could change before I file it,” he said of the bill.

Sen. Ken Winters, R-Murray and chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said he has concerns about shortening the school year.

“I'm much more concerned about their educational futures,” Winters said. “We need to think about the students.”

He said it was still too early to figure out how the ice storm was going to affect schools.

Fayette County Public Schools School Superintendent Stu Silberman said late Tuesday that any comment on Cherry's proposal would be speculative. But he said that if a bill is filed in the General Assembly, the school system will follow its progress and, if it is passed, take the measure before the Fayette County Board of Education for discussion.

With Wednesday's cancellation, Fayette County schools will have missed eight days for winter weather this year, plus a partial day for taking off an hour early on Tuesday.

Since schools can make up for a partial lost day by adding minutes onto regular school days, that presumably means county schools could complete the school year on June 3, baring more closings.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader