FRANKFORT, Ky. (3/12/14) — The Kentucky House of Representatives Education Committee has approved House Bill 410.
The bill, passed Tuesday, March 11, would require Kentucky's Education Commissioner Terry Holliday to waive 10 instructional days in the 2013-2014 school year. The bill moved quickly through the education committee after many of the state's school districts missed as many as 20 days of school due to bad weather.
The legislation, as written in its original form, reads:
"Notwithstanding any other statute or administrative regulation to the contrary, for school year 2013-2014, the commissioner of education shall approve a request from a local board of education to waive a maximum of 10 instructional days missed. School district certified and classified personnel shall make up any instructional activities or professional development or by being assigned additional work responsibilities."
The bill does include an emergency clause, so it would become law immediately upon being passed by the House and Senate, and then signed by Gov. Beshear.
The legislation, according to state Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, has received an avalanche of support from constituents from across the state.
Yonts told SurfKY News that he and other legislators have been inundated with as many as 30,000 messages urging them to pass the bill.
"When we came back for the session on March 4, legislators from all over the state had received as enormous amount of messages regarding the bill," said Yonts. "And messages in support of the bill are still coming in. I certainly plan to vote for it. Now that the education committee has passed It, it will go to the House floor for a vote. Then, I predict, it will get a quick shipping to the Senate. For it to affect this school year, it needed to have that emergency clause on it. If not for that clause it would take 60 days before it would go into effect."
State Sen. Jerry Rhoads, D-Madisonville, representing Hopkins, Muhlenberg, Butler and Ohio counties, told SurfKY News that he has not received a lot of feedback from the counties he represents, but he will be discussing the bill with the school systems in his district.
"House Bill 410 certainly has precedent," Rhoads said. "We've done this in prior sessions, where we have had severe winters. It gives the commissioner of education the authority to approve a request from a local board to waive a maximum of 10 instructional days missed."
At the present, there is no companion Senate bill comparable to HB410, according to Rhoads, so passage may take longer than some school officials would like.
"It's got a long way to go," Rhoads said. "Sometimes, priority bills can move quickly. But it does have to move through the House, then it has to come over to the Senate. I presume it will go through the Senate Education Committee. It would then have to be approved by the full Senate. But if there are any changes made in it by the Senate, the bill would have to go back to the House to see if they want to concur."
In the meantime, many school districts across the state are waiting for the final word from Frankfort on the bill. According to Ed McCarraher, director of pupil personnel for the Muhlenberg County School System, there are still many specifics that need to be addressed in order for school districts to be sure they are meeting all required state guidelines.
"I'm sure that the exact wording of the bill, as it relates to the total number of days and hours required by school districts will be addressed," said McCarraher. "That's what is not explained right now in the bill. It will make a difference as to how districts move on it."
SurfKY News Reporter
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