Snow Day May Not Add School Days

Thursday, January 29th 2009, 6:47 pm
By: News 9

By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Snow days are fun for the kids, but no one enjoys making them up at the end of the year. A local lawmaker is proposing new legislation that could change how schools make up snow days.

Current law requires public schools be open a certain number of instructional days each school year. That means if they cancel a day for snow or some other reason now, they have to make up that day later.

"We've been out three days. Those three days will be added on to the end of the school year," Putnam City Schools Spokesman Steve Lindley said.

But legislation being proposed by Representative Jeff Hickman would give every school district the option of making up that time another way.

"Currently students are required to be in school six hours a day for 180 days a year. And this just takes that 180 and times six is 1080 hours. It just simply converts the system over to an hour system and lets each local school district make the decision about when those classes would be held, when the doors would be open at those schools," District 58 Rep. Jeff Hickman said.

Following a storm and cancellations, schools could calculate how much time they need to make up and split it up over several weeks, or they could add ten minutes to the school day starting in August and bank that extra time.

"But it puts the decision in the hands of school boards and local school administrators instead of having a state mandate telling them they must open those doors for an additional day," Rep. Hickman said.

In Putnam City and other districts, reaction is generally positive. They like the notion of flexibility.

"For some districts and some circumstances, that might be a very helpful thing. Could be the flexibility is appreciated, and whether that is ever used, we'll have to wait and see," Lindley said.

Representative Hickman said districts could use the new policy to save on cooling costs during the warmer months by going to a 4-day school week.

Nearly identical legislation made it as far as a conference committee last session. Hickman said he's looking into trying to fast-track the bill so that it could help districts this school year.