Midlands districts may or may not take advantage of potential legislative reprieve

cclick@thestate.comFebruary 14, 2014 

It is now up to school districts, and the Legislature, to figure out when and if South Carolina public school students will make up some or all of the snow days logged in the two winter storms that walloped the region.

Midlands school districts gave up three days this week, and lost one to two instructional days during the late January storm. That means the districts now must turn to the designated snow days built into their calendars — including some that are coming as early as Monday.

But the legislature also could weigh in with an option to forgive some of the days, should districts opt to take advantage of the reprieve. Most districts are still weighing that decision.

“We have two days left designated on the calendar for weather make-up, and we’ll be watching to see if the bill that the House of Representatives passes,” said Mary Anne Byrd, spokeswoman for Kershaw County public schools. “If so, that will be something that our school board will have to discuss.” Kershaw’s designated make-up days are March 7 and May 26.

Richland 1 will make up one of its missed days on Monday followed by another make-up day March 28. District spokeswoman Karen York said district officials will be in discussions next week about the remaining days.

Richland 2 also is planning to talk about the best scenario once school resumes Wednesday. Students in that district are getting an unexpectedly long break, because Feb. 17-18 already were designated as student holidays. March 28 and April 21 have been designated as make-up days for Richland 2.

Mark Bounds, spokesman for Lexington-Richland 5, said his district may be inclined to make up all days no matter what the final outcome on the bill winding through the S.C. Legislature. The district will use the President’s Day holiday Monday to make up one of the snow days and has designated June 6 also as another make-up day.

“Instructional time is very important to District 5,” Bounds said in an email. “We will look for other possible make-up days, talk to our schools leaders about the impact the last few days have had on instruction and make the very best decision for our students and families.”

He said the school board would have to approve whether any school days are excused.

Lexington 1, which has two remaining makeup days on the calendar, March 14 and April 21, also is leaning in that same direction.

“Based on past experience and the district’s emphasis on high expectations and quality instruction, I’m assuming we would use those two remaining days,” Mary Beth Hill, Lexington 1’s communications director, said. “As to what we would do for the remaining day, I’m sure we will discuss that once we get back.”

In 2011, after snow and ice storms shut down some districts for up to five intermittent days, the Legislature agreed to forgive snow days. A similar piece of legislation was introduced in the S.C. House this month and passed 95-0. The Senate is expected to take up the measure next week.

State law requires schools to have at least 180 days of instruction annually.

Lexington 2 has set Monday and May 26 as designated make-up days. Lexington 3 has March 14 and April 21, while Lexington 4 has April 21 and June 6 scheduled as make-up days.

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