COLUMBIA - This week's snow and ice storm that again brought South Carolina to a standstill is delaying action on a snow-days bill stemming from the previous bout of wintry weather.
Senate President Pro Tem John Courson said Thursday the Senate will take up a measure next week that allows school boards to forgive up to five days of classes canceled this school year because of severe weather.
Otherwise, state law requires schools to make up any days missed due to extreme weather, to maintain at least 180 days of instruction yearly. By law, districts are supposed to have three makeup days built into their calendars in case they're needed.
The House passed the bill 95-0 last week, following the last wintry mix that canceled classes for several days. The Senate intended to discuss it this week, when Mother Nature struck again, this time more harshly, again canceling the legislative session.
Courson said the Senate may amend the legislation to allow districts to forgive more days, calling it a decision best left to local leaders.
"It would be their option. They would make the call," said Courson, R-Columbia. "I just think they understand better than the Legislature what their needs would be in making up these days."
If the Senate amends and passes the measure, it will return to the House.
House Speaker Bobby Harrell said Thursday he agrees with expanding districts' options.
"Giving local districts the flexibility to make that call is the right thing to do," said Harrell, R-Charleston. "Districts that need the classroom time can make up the days rather than excusing them."
A spokesman for Gov. Nikki Haley indicated she would sign the resolution - or at least, not veto it.
She's encouraging legislative leaders to "support statewide bills that allow each school district to make their own decisions," Doug Mayer said.
Scott Price with the state School Boards Association said he hasn't yet heard from districts, which are shuttered across the state, on whether they want the option of excusing more than five days. He hadn't received much feedback on the original bill, introduced Feb. 4.
"But that was before round two," he said. "This is unprecedented with back-to-back storms and the second being much worse than the first."
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