Dorchester District 2 students could know today when their school year will end, but in the meantime, Berkeley County has also asked to have its students and teachers pardoned from state-mandated makeup days.
A bill that is fast-tracking its way through the legislature was introduced to the House on Tuesday, and local lawmakers said they believe it will be approved either Wednesday or Thursday.
"I'm assuming it will pass," said Sen. Paul Campbell.
Sen. Sean Bennett said he requested that the measure not be sent to committee, which could delay it till next week.
State Rep. Chris Murphy and other Dorchester County legislators sponsored the measure last week at the request of District 2 school board member Sam Clark.
The bill, which has passed the house, would allow the district to waive a state requirement to make up days missed due to inclement weather regardless of whether the district has used all of its scheduled makeup days.
Lowcountry schools were closed for ice and power outages on Jan. 29 and 30, and Feb. 12 and 13. Dorchester 2 also was closed Feb. 14, when Berkeley had a scheduled teacher work day and Charleston opened late.
Although the districts had scheduled days at the end of their year as makeup days, they converted half days to full days and teacher work days to regular days before state education officials said they don't count because they weren't scheduled as makeup days.
Earlier this year the legislature approved a measure that allows 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 makeup days built into their calendars.
"This is a little frustrating because we thought we had this problem fixed before," Bennett said.
Opponents have said the makeup days fall after scheduled testing and high school graduations and are an unnecessary expense for the districts. They predict very low attendance.
"It doesn't make sense to run buses and run air-conditioning and bring the teachers in for something I think they did appropriately," Campbell said. "I think they took advantage of a situation (by converting days), especially one that would save the taxpayers' money."
Campbell said he received a call Monday from Berkeley Superintendent Rodney Thompson to add that county to Dorchester 2's request, which he added as an amendment to the bill Tuesday.
He said he hasn't been asked to add any other districts, "but I'd be happy to do that. I'm primarily interested in Dorchester and Berkeley and Charleston counties, but I'm also interested in saving taxpayer money for South Carolina."
Charleston County school board members have said they plan to send a letter this week to the county's legislative delegation, which includes both Bennett and Campbell.
Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or @brindge on Twitter.
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