A S.C. House of Representatives bill fast-tracking its way through the Legislature could give Dorchester District 2 a last minute reprieve from having two make-up days at the end of the school year.
State Rep. Chris Murphy along with several other Dorchester County state legislators sponsored the measure last week after hearing from school board member Sam Clark who took issue with the required make-up days. The bill has passed the house. The senate is expected to take it up on Tuesday.
The bill would allow the district to waive a state requirement to make up missed days due to inclement weather regardless of whether the district has used all of its make-up days in the 2013-2014 school calendar. That's because the district already used two early dismissal days in March and April but state education officials said they don't count because they weren't scheduled as make-up days in the school calendar.
Clark said he contacted state legislators after hearing from parents and teachers who were upset about the make-up days on June 2 and June 3 affecting their summer plans. With testing over and grades pretty much in ahead of the make-up days, Clark didn't see the point in sending children to school. Both make-up days are half days for students.
"We're doing all that in a perfunctory way to say 'we made up the days,'" he said. "I'm thinking what's the sense in that."
Murphy agreed, calling the make-up days a "complete waste of taxpayer money."
Dorchester school officials said it will cost them $150,000, not including salaries, to operate the schools for half a day on June 2 and June 3. Costs associated with the make-up days include costs for transportation and lunch for students.
Charleston County school board members have also complained about the required make-up days. Charleston County is holding a half-day of school on June 6 to meet the make-up day requirement. The school board plans to send a letter this week to Charleston County's state legislative delegation outlining its concerns about the make-up days.
"We are using a day that most likely will have minimal attendance, usurps our teachers' necessary workday time and creates the additional expense of a full school day with transportation and meals," Coats said.
Charleston school district officials estimate that it costs around $1.5 million to operate a day of school in the county. Figures on what the June 6 half-day would cost were not immediately available.
The make-up days for both school districts fall after most high school graduations. There are no similar legislative bills pending to exempt Berkeley or Charleston counties from the make-up days.
The make-up days are the result of several missed school days in January and February due to winter weather and icy conditions. State law requires schools to make up all days missed due to extreme weather, but earlier this year the state legislature approved a measure that would allow districts to forgive up to five days after they use their scheduled make-up days. Districts are required by law to have at least three make-up days built into their calendars. Those days have to be used before missed days can be waived.