Monday, June 17, 2024

Lawmakers propose bill to waive missed school days due to Hurricane Florence

State lawmakers want teachers to save their paid leave and vacation days in light of Hurricane Florence. Draft legislation for post-storm relief includes waiving missed school days in certain counties for students and staff members of the public school system.

Schools across the region are closed due to Hurricane Florence (Port City Daily/File)
Schools across the region are closed due to Hurricane Florence (Port City Daily/File)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — State lawmakers are proposing to waive missed school days in declared disaster areas due to Hurricane Florence. The unnamed draft bill would also prevent all public school system employees from using vacation days or paid time off to make up for days missed since the storm, allowing employees to receive compensation without using their vacation days.

RELATED: Schools remain closed next week in Brunswick, New Hanover, and Pender counties

State Senator Michael Lee announced the draft bill Monday, alongside other state lawmakers.

“Today is day 15 since the state emergency operations center in Raleigh, North Carolina, gathered and engaged,” Lee said at a press conference.

Lee announced the bill to offer certainty to parents, students and teachers who have been unsure what administrative response would be taken to make up for multiple days missed.

“There is little certainty that exists coming out of a storm of this magnitude,” State Representative Craig Horn said at the announcement. “This is unfortunately not our first rodeo, probably won’t be our last.”

Horn said the legislation is a “comprehensive disaster relief bill” with an education portion included. The bill that will effectively waive days missed for students and staff members will be proposed to the General Assembly in the coming months. Universities and K-12 schools are included in the draft legislation, but charter schools aren’t, Horn said.

In non-disaster counties of the state, Horn said the bill would forgive a portion of missed days, rather than the entirety.

North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction, Mark Johnson, said the decision was informed by local districts, including New Hanover County, who asked for calendar flexibility following the storm.

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