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Lawmakers working on forgiveness for districts missing school due to Florence

Senate Education Committee co-chair Michael Lee, R-New Hanover, House Education K-12 Committee co-chair Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, and Superintendent Mark Johnson announced today legislation that would forgive missed school days for districts affected by Hurricane Florence. 

During the press conference in New Hanover County, Horn said the bill would forgive all missed school days for districts in counties labeled disasters, and would forgive two or three days for districts in non-disaster counties, though he said lawmakers would “work out something” if there were many days in excess of two or three. 

“One of the keys here is to ensure that our kids get sufficient instruction as well,” Horn said. “It’s kind of a balance.” 

The bill would also include a portion related to calendar flexibility and addressing concerns of teachers who are using vacation days or losing pay because of school closings. 

“There is little certainty that exists coming out of a storm of this magnitude,” Lee said, adding that he hopes this announcement can provide some certainty. 

Democratic Governor Roy Cooper has called for a special legislative session to address the fallout of Hurricane Florence on October 9, but House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, have requested that the special session start October 2. The legislation will be taken up whenever the special session occurs.

Johnson said he and other education leaders have been hearing educators’ concerns about the need for calendar flexibility to address the missed days from the storm as well as worries that teachers aren’t going to get paid. 

“The main thing that we are here to message is: this is a first step,” he said. “It is a right step … we note there is going to be a lot more work to do in the weeks and months ahead.”

Watch the press conference below: 

Alex Granados

Alex Granados is senior reporter for EducationNC.