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Walz signs snow day bill that offers relief to school districts

The Legislature passed the bill last week.

School districts around the state fretting over the numerous snow day closings this year won't have to worry about making them up.

Minnesota's House and Senate overwhelmingly passed an identical snow day relief proposal March 28. Gov. Tim Walz signed the measure into law four days later, saying he was "proud to sign a bipartisan bill so schools aren't penalized for snow or cold days."

Districts had faced pressure to extend class into the summer, because state law requires them to reach a minimum number of days and teaching hours per school year. With the turbulent weather, many districts were in line to fall short.

The House and Senate had approved differing bills earlier this month, but a conference committee hammered out a compromise that satisfied legislators.

"This bill gives local school boards the option to forgive days to ensure full and stable funding for their district, avoid the possibility of jailtime for their superintendents, and prevent unreasonable scheduling disruptions for students and families," said Republican Sen. Carla Nelson in a statement.

The bill approved last Thursday lets school districts waive any number of days that were canceled due to snow or cold, but only for the 2018-19 school year.

They have to report each day to the Minnesota Department of Education, and are encouraged to have an e-learning plan ready for future years.

In addition, the districts are required to compensate contract and hourly workers who lost out on pay for each cancelled school day.

“It was incredibly important to make sure school staff weren’t penalized for those lost days, and I’m grateful the provisions helping non-salaried staff were kept," DFL Rep. Shelly Christensen said in a statement.

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