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Debate Brewing Over Lost School Days

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LANSING (WWJ) – By days… or by the hour? The debate is on over exactly how Michigan school kids should make up for lost time in the classroom this Winter.

170 days or 1,098 hours… that’s how much time Michigan students must spend in the classroom each year. But with some districts already having used more than twice their allotted emergency days, State Representative Phil Potvin of Cadillac has proposed legislation that would give districts the option of adding 30 minutes to each school day.

“In northern Michigan where we’re talking about thousands of miles of travel, this is very important in a time where budgets are tight no matter what,” says Potvin.

Members of the state Board of Education say they’d prefer not adding minutes to the end of each school day until year’s end, encouraging districts that exceeded the allotted six snow days to replace that lost time with full days of instruction.

“It’s more important to have full days of instruction as oppose to simply adding 30 minutes to every day that you have. We fear that if all you do is add five or ten minutes to every class period, you’re not really adding more instruction you’re just adding seat time,” says Cassandra Ulbrich, vice president of the Michigan Board of Education, which has come out against the hourly option.

“We’ve got to use some common sense here,” says Potvin, “This allows the schools to make their own choice.”

Though Ulbrich, voicing opposition to the proposal pending in Lansing, says, “We believe that having full days of instruction are much more important than simply tacking on minutes to the end of the day. You’re not getting any additional instruction at that point, you’re simply counting the minutes of a child sitting in a seat.”

Some districts in the state have already used up to 12 snow days… and either way Michigan school kids will be spending more time in the classroom.

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