Fort Mill Times

S.C. Legislature overrides Sanford on make-up days

State leaders have spoken.

"Memorial Day will be a holiday for students in Fort Mill," state Rep. Carl Gullick (R-Lake Wylie) said.

And there will be no weather make-up classes days after senior students graduate.

"The days missed are forgiven," Gullick said. "They don't have to be made up."

Earlier this month, the Fort Mill School Board voted to rescind its final weather make-up days, including Memorial Day. Days later, Gov. Mark Sanford vetoed legislation that would give local school districts the flexibility to decide whether or not to forgive bad weather days.

But House and Senate members challenged Sanford's veto, effectively canceling out weather-related make-up days statewide.

"Now, schools can close for up to three days," Gullick said about the new legislation. "It basically shortens the school year up to three days if the school board so chooses."

That's good news in Fort Mill, Jan Smiley, school board chairwoman, said.

"This allows families to have Memorial Day weekend and the start of their summer vacation back again," she said.

The state mandates that school districts designate three bad weather days. This year, Fort Mill officials selected six days. After inclement weather prompted officials to close schools twice this year, students were slated to attend school May 25 and June 8.

Yet, the decision to hold classes May 25 -- part of an extended weekend when many families have travel plans -- and June 8, which is just after graduation, evoked mixed reactions from parents and students.

But the new law returns Memorial Day as a day off for Fort Mill students while giving school districts flexibility.

"The law gives them the flexibility to take a day without making it up or not make up a day that's already been missed," Gullick said.

The new legislation also could prove cost effective at a time when dollars for education are at risk due to the down economy and the state's precarious financial situation.

"Right now, schools are facing pretty significant budget cuts," Gullick said.

"This bill at least allows schools to reduce expenses to a limited degree."

And there's one other plus.

"It should save the district money on the power bill," Smiley said.

Students in Rock Hill, Clover and York also get to take back their Memorial Day holiday under the new legislation, according to officials for each school district.