Snow Days and State Aid

   Poor road conditions and brutal cold have caused many school administrators to cancel an inordinate number of school days, raising concerns about satisfying the State School Aid Act’s minimum pupil instruction requirements. Section 101 of the Act requires at least 1,098 hours and 170 days of pupil instruction in the 2013-14 school year.

Some leeway is given for Michigan’s inevitable winter storms and other unforeseeable contingencies. The first six days or equivalent hours of pupil instruction missed due to circumstances beyond the school’s control are still counted toward the Act’s minimum requirements. When more than six days are canceled before April 1, absent remedial action, a school forfeits a portion of the state aid allocation in proportion to the hours and days missed. Consequently, schools that exhaust the six “free” days must schedule additional pupil instruction time to receive the full state aid allotment.

Given this year’s particularly difficult winter, a waiver of the required number of pupil instruction days is currently being considered by the Michigan Legislature. House Bill 5285, if enacted, would allow schools that are unable to provide the minimum number of required pupil instruction days to remain in compliance with the Act by offering only the minimum number of pupil instruction hours. Thus, schools could satisfy minimum instructional requirements by lengthening some or all of the remaining school days. Each extended day must be at least 30 minutes longer. HB 5285 remains in committee and is not law.

Absent such legislation, the Act’s current requirements must still be satisfied, which may require that school officials add both additional days and hours of pupil instruction. For an additional day to be counted, pupil attendance must reach at least 75%. For the 2013- 14 school year, up to 38 hours of qualifying professional development time may be counted toward minimal requirements. That feature is not available in 2014-15.

Clarification - Snow Days and State Aid. Section 101 of the State School Aid Act requires generally that a district must provide a minimum of 1098 hours and 170 days of pupil instruction to be eligible to receive full funding for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.  You are reminded, however, that if your district provided more than 170 days of pupil instruction in the 2009-2010 school year, section 101 requires that your district continue to provide at least that same number of pupil instruction days in the 2013-2014 school year to be eligible to receive full funding.