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Michigan Measure Seeks to Encourage Year-Round Schedule for Schools

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By guest blogger Alyssa Morones

Michigan may soon make it easier for public schools to institute year-round schedules as a way to prevent summer learning loss. A legislative committee heard testimony this week on a bill that would dedicate $10 million in state aid to help schools make the transition. And just last month, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder talked up the idea in his annual State of the State address.

The bill proposed by Rep. Andy Schor, a Democrat, would provide state dollars for such infrastructure improvements as installing air conditioning units to help schools move to a year-round schedule as a way to encourage schools to switch to a year-round schedule.

The goal would be to reduce the learning loss that occurs, especially for at-risk students, over summer break, said Rep. Schor's legislative director, Karissa Chabot-Purchase, in a phone interview. The measure, she noted, creates an incentive for schools to move to an all-year format but that may lack the resources to make these one-time expenditures.

"Oftentimes, schools that might be good candidates have more outdated buildings and their students tend to lack resources like education camps or education opportunities over the summer months," she said.

Chabot-Purchase said that Rep. Schor is looking to collaborate with the governor's office and the House leadership to build support for the plan.

In his Jan. 16 State of the State address, Gov. Snyder made a pitch for the idea, pointing to research that he said shows that year-round schooling helps reduce "learning loss" for at-risk students.

"I think it would be appropriate to look at a pilot for low-performing schools about can we support them to look at year-round school to give those kids every chance to be successful," the governor said in his address.

Michigan's governor is not the only state leader to recently make a push for rethinking or extending time for learning. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, for instance, proposed extending the school day and year, as we blogged about recently. And South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called on lawmakers to quadruple state aid for summer reading camps.

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