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Some school districts pushing missed-time limit

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - As we all know, a majority of school districts in West Michigan were shut down for three days this week because of the snow and subzero temperatures.

This means some schools are already getting close to reaching the six day limit for snow days allowed by the state.

Michigan law requires school districts to provide 170 days and 1,098 hours of instruction.

So we called the Governor's office Wednesday to see if there is any discussion of changing the guidelines this school year.

It's been 20 consecutive days since a majority of West Michigan students have sat in a classroom.

"Longest stretch I can remember in my tenure for sure. I got an e-mail or text from one of the teachers earlier this week that they're going to need directions back to the school because they've been gone so long," said Kevin Harness, the Superintendent of Allegan Public Schools.

Harness tells us it may only be the second week of January, but his school district has already used up five of its six snow days.

"It's very likely based on this winter particularly, we will go over the limit which means make up days at the end of the school year," said Harness.

And added make-up days says Harness, mean a financial strain on the district's budget.

He says with hourly pay, utilities, food and transportation costs, every additional school day is an extra $25,000 the district must shell out.

That's why Harness and other area schools tell us they're hoping Lansing will give school districts a break.

"This is a  very appropriate time, based on the length of the storm, and how widespread it was, it would be a relief for districts, families to have some special dispensation," said Harness.

So we reached out to the Governor's office Wednesday and found out it's too soon to tell.

"Right now, while some districts have closed school for three days. There's still a long time left in the school year, there is no immediate thought that they might reach that six days," said Dave Murray, the Deputy Press Secretary for Governor Rick Snyder.

However, to get the ball rolling it only takes one lawmaker to sponsor a bill asking for a snow day extension.