March 26, 2014 — We had hoped this editorial would not have been necessary by the time you read it in today’s issue of the Journal-Times.
The Kentucky House and Senate promised last Friday that a conference committee from both chambers would have a solution by yesterday to the problem of missed school days.
Some districts have missed more than 30 days and are under increasing pressure to change calendars to tell families when the school year will end, when mandatory testing will occur and when high school graduations will be held.
The compromise became necessary when the Senate version of a snow days solution kept the statutory 1,062 hours of instruction but the House wanted to let local districts drop up to 10 days at their own discretion.
A side issue is the fact that most House members apparently prefer such decisions at the district level rather than in Frankfort with State Education Commissioner Terry Holliday.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo hinted that some districts believe Holliday shows favoritism to certain districts.
We agree with the House philosophy that as many decisions as possible affecting the public schools should be made by the citizens we have elected to 173 school boards.
As for school staff, no one is to blame for the bad weather and no one should be punished by the loss of pay for all of those days when it was unsafe to transport students on buses.
The conference committee was seeking a balance between instructional needs of students and the convenience of families with summer plans.
Sadly, the co-chairs of the committee said Monday that talks had broken down and nothing had been settled.
In our view, the General Assembly must set an absolute date for ending the school year and encourage districts to accomplish as much real learning as possible before that deadline.