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Senate passes snow day flexibility bill
Our region has suffered through an extraordinary number of inclement weather events this year that forced school districts across the state to cancel classes in the interest of student safety. I recently supported a proposal approved by the Senate that would give school districts additional flexibility in making up for missed time due to hazardous winter road conditions and dangerous sub-zero temperatures in recent months.
Senate Bill 1281, which received unanimous approval in the Senate, would offer schools the discretion to calculate the school year on an hourly, rather than daily basis. Under the plan, school boards would have the option to ensure elementary school students receive at least 900 hours of instruction and post-secondary students receive 990 hours of instruction, rather than meeting the traditional threshold of 180 days in school.
While the state Department of Education already has a program in place that allows school districts to apply for flexibility, Senate Bill 1281 would allow schools to avoid this step in light of the extreme nature of this winter. School boards would also be given the option of holding classes on Saturdays to make up for lost time. Saturday classes would be restricted to one per month to avoid adding undue stress on students and their families while ensuring teachers still have adequate time to prepare. The legislation would leave the final decision on Saturday classes to be made locally by individual school boards, not at the state level.
The proposal is not without precedent. Most recently, school districts in northeastern Pennsylvania were given special flexibility to make up for missed time following catastrophic flooding in 1996. Given the challenges experienced this winter by many local school districts, it makes sense to offer schools in our region the same consideration.
The 2013-14 winter was among the most severe on record, and a number of local districts were forced to exhaust their allotment of scheduled make-up days. Offering school districts the flexibility to complete the school year in a reasonable time frame will come as a welcome relief for families and faculty who may have travel plans, summer jobs or other scheduling conflicts.
State government internship guide available now
Internships are a very helpful way for college students to gain real-world experience and learn more about their field of study. Additionally, these positions can often serve as a highlight on the resume of recent graduates and a springboard to rewarding careers after graduation. Local students and their parents frequently contact my office for information on internships in state government.
The new 2014 Summer Internship Program Guide available on my website at senatorbrubaker.com includes helpful information regarding paid and unpaid internship opportunities in a wide range of government departments and agencies. The guide includes department and agency contact information, application instructions, internship job descriptions, potential for earning college credits and other helpful information for applicants. The available positions span a broad range of potential career paths and interests, offering useful experience for students from a diverse set of majors.
Students are encouraged to apply for these intern positions through the Bureau of State Employment at employment.pa.gov.
Sen. Brubaker represents the Lititz area in Harrisburg. His column appears weekly in the commentary section of the Record Express. His Lititz office is located at 301 E. Main St. To contact him, call 627-0036.
For more information on issues of importance to Lancaster and ChesterCounty residents, visit his website at senatorbrubaker.com.