FRANKFORT—The state House will vote on legislation to allow Kentucky school districts to shorten their instructional calendar by as many as 10 days.
The measure is being promoted as a way for schools to deal with a greater-than-normal number of snow days. State Rep. Brian Linder, a Dry Ridge Republican, says educators in his district realize it often takes a while for bills to become laws.
“I told them I would bring the urgency that we need to make sure that we get this pushed through as quickly as possible so they can get their schedule figured out,” Linder said.
School districts would not lose state funds if they chose to reduce their calendars by one to 10 days, says state Rep. John Will Stacy, a West Liberty Democrat.
But state Rep. Rita Smart has some concerns.
“Is it fair for districts that don’t take as many days that other districts are gonna take those ten days,” said Smart, a Richmond Democrat.
Smart says she’s also worried about catching students up the next year on missed instruction. Associate Education Commissioner Hiren Desai says the department would prefer Commissioner Terry Holliday have discretion in approving requests.
“It requires that if the Commissioner is asked to give 10 days, he has to give those 10 days without any consideration for instruction,” Desai said. “Certainly do appreciate the fact that it’s limited to this one year.”
State Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, a Louisville Democrat, told her colleagues challenging weather conditions seem to be more common. She cited an ice storm in 2009 along with hurricane and tornado-related storms in 2010. Marzian said year-round school calendars would offer more flexibility to meet the 170 day requirement.
Jefferson County Public Schools has canceled classes 11 times this academic year because of weather issues.