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Schools get new flexibility in making up snow days by adding extra hours

MADISON, Wis (WRN)  Wisconsin school districts would be given the option to shorten the school year and lengthen the class day, or vice versa, under a bill approved by the state Senate. The bill passed Tuesday on a voice vote. The measure got support from district administrators during a public hearing last month.

Jerry Fiene with Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance said eliminating the 180 day mandate while keeping a minimum number of hours of instruction would open up options for conserving resources while improving achievement. “Transportation costs are a major expense of rural districts, that drain resources directly from the classroom,” he said. “Reducing district-wide transportation for just a single day would save thousands of dollars.”

Districts, dealing with a high number of weather related cancellations this year, could also choose to shorten the class day and lengthen the school year. The legislation (SB 589), which heads to the Assembly in the waning days of the legislative session, also allows the state Department of Public Instruction to provide reimbursement for additional periods beyond regular and summer school calendars.