ROCKFORD, Mich. — The severe winter weather has many school districts in West Michigan facing the potential for a later end to the school year.
Dr. Michael Shibler, Superintendent of Rockford Public Schools, said Rockford is already making up days, and he believes numbers will only grow amid the winter weather.
“Contractually, is to end Friday, June 7. We will as of today be going to Wednesday, June 12," he said.
Shibler said the school has used up all six of its allotted grace days and will be applying for an additional three, as permitted by state law.
“In the 30 years that I’ve served the community as superintendent of schools, I’ve never applied for those additional three until now,” Shibler said.
He noted that schools across West Michigan are cancelling field trips to make up for lesson plans lost through snow days. With state assessments around the corner for students, Shibler asked principals to work with teachers to identify the key education components that must take priority.
In regards to make-up days, Dr. Shibler says he hopes the state government will show schools grace. “Because the government did issue a state of emergency during the storms, I would think they might provide those opportunities.”
In order for that to happen, the current legislation surrounding schools would have to change. Bill Disessa, Spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Education said schools are required to have a minimum of 1,098 hours and 180 days logged. “It has to be a bill introduced to the state legislature to change state law for this year,” Disessa said.
Michigan State Representative Mark Huizenga said this could be a viable option. “It’s not exactly unprecedented either, because the last time these minimums were surpassed was back in 2014 and the state did great additional days off,” he said.
However, as of Monday, no bill has been proposed. Rep. Huizenga has been in contact with superintendents from Rockford and Kenowa Hills among others, and said his team will work to find a solution.
“There will have to be something done, and it isn’t determined until probably a couple, several weeks, probably six weeks out until we can quantify this.”
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