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Some Michigan schools may have an extended 2021 school year


Michigan schools are facing a call for a longer school year. The state superintendent made the recommendation earlier this month before a joint house and senate education committee.


“Given the challenges to teaching and learning during the pandemic, students will need additional instruction time next school year,” said State Superintendent Rice during the meeting, but so far this is just a recommendation schools will have to make the decision at a local level.


Brian Pearson is the Superintendent of Gaylord Schools, he said he believes it may be a necessary step for some schools, but it needs to be an educated decision.


“As you look at a lot of schools some schools have been able to be in session face to face, some still aren’t, and I think the response to that needs to be individual. So for some schools it may mean that extension needs to be a week, for some it’s some after school programs, but I think it needs to be a data driven decision,” Pearson said.


Pearson said his district is still waiting for standardized test results to return before they make their decision, though he is already optimistic that his district is keeping pace. He said the Gaylord Community Schools have been able to keep around 80% of their students in the classroom and hasn't experienced any major closures or delays.


He said for the schools that want to extend it may be easier said than done. He said there are two barriers to an extension. The first is getting the schoolboard onboard and getting the plan approved. The second barrier, he said, is the harder one:


“Right now we all have collective bargaining agreements and in those agreements we have 182 contractual days with staff, and so you would have to negotiate that with whatever bargaining group. That could be done, but chances are it’s gonna cost some money,” he said.


Pearson said not all schools will need the extension, but even those that do want it may struggle to implement it.