SC Senate to vote on snow day forgiveness

The StateFebruary 12, 2014 

— The S.C. Senate will consider allowing school districts statewide to not make up any snow days taken during this week’s storm in addition to any sessions missed in a winter blast two weeks ago.

Some school districts sent students home early Tuesday and others called off classes for Wednesday.

The state House approved a resolution last week to forgive the first set of snow days, but the Senate had not taken up the issue before another winter storm struck Tuesday. The Senate canceled its session this week because of the weather.

Next week, the Senate will look at adding snow days from the latest storm to what school districts can forgive, Senate President Pro Tempore John Courson said.

If the amendment is approved, the resolution would return to the House. A spokesman for House Speaker Bobby Harrell said it was too early to say if the House would pile on the additional snow days.

Courson said the resolution gives school districts the option to forgive the snow days.

Some school districts, including Richland 1 where Courson’s son attends school, already have designated makeup days from last month’s storm. Some schools, including Horry County Schools, will open this Monday – the Presidents’ Day holiday.

On Monday before the second winter storm rolled in, the Horry County school board OK’d a recommendation from HCS Superintendent Cindy Elsberry to seek a waiver from the General Assembly for some of the weather makeup days, which would forgive two of the four days, Jan. 28-31, when schools were closed because of an ice storm.

Elsberry said the other two days would be made up Monday and March 28, which already are designated on the student calendar as possible makeup days, and that the district wants to try to fulfill the calendar as promised because parents and families have built their schedules around it.

State law requires public schools make up missed school days and designate three days for catch up. Once those days are used, schools can expand class time by at least one hour a day or hold classes on Saturdays to make up lost academic time.

Gov. Nikki Haley said she hopes the General Assembly passes a statewide bill that would allow school districts to decide whether to forgive missed days.

“We want our kids making up those days – this isn’t a way for us to get out of teaching – but what we think is that should really be a local issue,” Haley said at a news conference Tuesday. “Those local districts should be able to decide what they need and what they don’t.”

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