By Ronnie Ellis
CNHI News Service
FRANKFORT — Local school officials anxious for word from Frankfort about the possibility of forgiving some missed snow days will have to continue to wait a bit longer.
Both the state Senate and House have passed bills to offer relief and flexibility to school districts which are required to offer 170 instructional days — 1,062 hours — per academic year.
But some districts have missed more than 30 days this year because of bad weather and many are finding it difficult to get in all those instructional days before scheduled graduations.
But the two measures differ. The House measure would simply allow superintendents to take advantage of a waiver of up to 10 instructional days. The Senate, meanwhile, passed a measure that would require districts to do everything they can to provide 1,062 hours of instruction. Those that still can’t amend school calendars to do that before a reasonable closing date may ask for a waiver from the Commissioner of Education.
The Senate bill came to the House on Wednesday for concurrence, but House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, recommended his colleagues decline.
“Our bill built in more flexibility for local districts,” Adkins said. His position was echoed by Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, and Rep. John Will Stacy, D-West Liberty, who sponsored the House bill.
Both said the Senate measure was too complicated and drew out the process for local districts to finalize their calendars and schedule events such as graduation ceremonies.
The next step is for the Senate to consider the House version. It can do as the House did and decline to concur or it can recede and accept the House measure.
Stacy said the House must wait for the Senate’s decision before forming a conference committee with the Senate to work out a compromise. But he expects the Senate is unlikely to concur with the House bill.
At that point, Stacy will head up the House conferees while the Senate will appoint its own conference committee members. The panel will then try to resolve the differences between the two chambers’ measures.
Stumbo said he hopes that can be done in short order and school districts can know by Friday or the first of next week how to proceed.
Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.