Winter's sudden arrival has brought several snow days to schools across Michigan and is leaving school districts, such as Rockford Public Schools and others to soon follow, scrambling to make plans for the days and hours of instruction lost.

Should the State of Michigan allow extra snow days this winter or require school districts to make up for lost time?

The State of Michigan requires school districts to offer at least 1,098 hours of instruction each school year. In addition, districts must also provide a minimum of 180 days of instruction.

Michigan law allows school districts to be forgiven for up to six missed days and the hourly equivalent before being required to make up the days and time. The days missed include snow days and applies to other conditions out of the school's control such as fires, loss of power, water or sewer failure, and health concerns.

An additional three days of forgiveness may be granted with approval from Michigan's State Superintendent once the six days of forgiven time originally granted to the district have been exhausted.

Classroom time must be rescheduled in order for a school district to receive its full funding. The Michigan Department of Education "encourages districts not to add hours of missed instruction time to the end of the school day, and to instead make up the canceled instructional time by adding days of instruction."

In the 2013-14 school year, Michigan’s 852 local school districts missed 9½ days on average. Morley Stanwood Community Schoolslocated about 50 miles northeast of Grand Rapids, had 19 snow days. This year's total number of snow days will vary widely regionally across Michigan as they always do, but they could quickly rise to similar numbers.

Some years we have zero snow days, while other years we have 10+ days cancelled. Common sense tells us we should plan for this possibility each year. If school districts add more school days and hours above the minimum required, the need for make-up days would arise less often with the side effect of students receiving more time in the classroom. Doesn't feel like there's a downside. Summer would be a week shorter, but school calendars would also be a bit more predictable, at least most years.

What is the best solution?

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