Snow Days bill passes, House vote needed on similar bill

Minnesota school kids might start summer vacation on time in June if a bill moving through the Legislature becomes law.

A bill passed the Senate on a bipartisan vote this week and would allow school boards to pass a resolution designating how many days that were missed due to the bitter cold and heavy snow this winter will not be made up. The bill will need to be reconciled with the House bill, which was discussed in a House committee this week also and sent to the floor for consideration.

An amendment that provides salary safeguards to school district employees and protects probationary teacher time-served requirements passed; the amendment requires that school districts give hourly workers a chance to be paid by allowing them to make up lost work hours or pay them for the missed days of work. It would also allow probationary teachers to count the lost days towards the total 120 hours required annually for non-probationary status.

Another amendment would have limited the number of days “forgiven” to January 29, 30, and 31 (the polar vortex days) and not require school boards to pass resolutions for the bill or its provisions to take effect. The amendment also encouraged, but did not mandate, that contract services, such as private bus companies, pay contract employees for lost wages.

The amendment, supporters argued, made sure that some of the lowest paid school workers, such as school lunch employees and paraprofessionals would be paid for the work missed and ensure that the youngest teachers could stay on track for full-time permanent teaching status. (SF 1743)