LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan is giving schools more flexibility in making up for snow days this academic year after record snowfall and harsh temperatures caused dozens of cancelations in some districts.
Schools that had scheduled 175 or more days can now hold just 174, as long as they still reach the 1,098 hours required per school year. Schools can count six cancelled days as instructional days under previous state law.
Districts that scheduled 170 to 174 days must meet their original target. Schools that need to add more days to the end of the school year can receive state money as long as they have 60 percent of students in attendance on those days. That's down from the regular 75 percent attendance requirement for funding.
Gov. Rick Snyder signed the changes into law earlier this month.
Detroit Public Schools, the state's largest district in a city that experienced its snowiest winter on record, has had nine days off overall, a spokesperson said. Some districts have had 15 cancellations or more, including Monroe Public Schools in southeastern Michigan.
Grandville Public Schools near Grand Rapids had planned one makeup day but cancelled it after the law changed. Grandville, which originally had 175 days scheduled, will top 1,098 instructional hours even after seven school cancellations, Superintendent Ron Caniff said.
"In essence, the legislation recognizes school districts like Grandville that exceed state requirements and have extra hours and days built into the school calendar," Caniff said in a letter to parents posted on the district's website.
Paw Paw Public Schools Superintendent Tony Habra said the district's 10 cancelled days were going to push the last day of school from June 11 to June 16. The new law allows the district to stick to its original calendar with some "slight modifications" to elementary school hours, he said, assuming it doesn't have more cancellations.
"The response has been real positive" from the "community, teachers, everybody," he said.
The changes are part of the School Aid supplemental budget that Snyder signed April 7. Caniff said he was surprised by the changes because the budget bill focused on program funding and early childhood education.
"Deep within that bill there was this legislation dealing with the snow day provision, and we did not see that coming," Caniff said in an interview. "We were prepared either way to do what we had to do."
Habra said he'd been tracking the bill after suggesting requirement changes to lawmakers.
The changes only apply to the 2013-2014 school calendar. Schools were allowed to lengthen their days last school year instead of making up snow days.
A House bill introduced in February would allow schools to extend days by at least 30 minutes this year to make up hours lost on snow days. The bill is stalled in committee.
The state Board of Education has encouraged districts to replace snow days with full school days rather than "adding on minutes to the existing days remaining."
"Full replacement days offer every student the full extent of quality instruction that they missed when the school was closed," the board said in a February statement.