State proposal could mean no make-up days for schools

jmink@macon.comFebruary 16, 2014 

Middle Georgia school districts have missed several days during the past month due to wintery weather, but they may not have to make up any of those days.

The state school board is scheduled to consider a proposal from the Georgia Department of Education Thursday that would exempt school districts from being required to make up days missed during a declared state of emergency.

If approved, the exemption would include most of the snow days that local districts have used this year. Under state requirements, school districts already can miss up to four days without making them up.

“Some of our districts have missed about 10 or 11 days due to weather, and it may be difficult for them to make up those days,” said Matt Cardoza, spokesman for the Department of Education. “We feel it’s our job to give them the flexibility to make the best determination at a local level.”

If the proposal is approved, school systems would not be required to use those exemption days. They would simply have the option of not making them up, Cardoza said.

Bibb County school officials will decide on make-up days after the state board votes on the proposal. The Bibb Board of Education likely will consider make-up options later this month during its regular meeting.

Before last week’s icy weather and the Department of Education’s proposal, interim Superintendent Steve Smith had recommended that Bibb schools make up two of the five days missed; the school system was required to make up one day. Now, the district has missed seven days and, if the state proposal is not approved, will be required to make up three days. If the proposal is approved, Bibb would not have to make up any days.

In Houston County, schools have been closed a total of five days this year for weather. Under state regulations, the district must make up at least one day, unless the proposal is approved. The district, therefore, will wait to plan any make-up days, said Beth McLaughlin, spokeswoman for Houston County schools.

If the state proposal is approved, it would simply give local school boards more options, Cardoza said.

“We’re certainly not saying they can’t make them up,” he said. “It’s simply saying that you have the flexibility to make them up or not make them up.”

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.

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