FINCH: Both ways

By Curt Finch MOISD Superintendent

“Back when I was a kid” is a popular phrase for those who wish to stroll down memory lane – I must admit that I’ve used it a few times myself when trying to get a point across to my kids.

With our share of snow days this year, I’ve heard this phrase many times this winter. Several of the “locals” who have lived in Mecosta and Osceola Counties for the past 40 or 50 years say this past winter was pretty normal compared to back then. I am a pretty avid snowmachine enthusiast and enjoyed not having to rush out the door to ride for a couple of hours knowing the snow would be gone the next day; the past couple of years more gravel has been run over than snowflakes! Forecasters are predicting that Michigan may see more weather like this last adventure into the near future. My Alaskan heritage might be one of the main factors why I like snow; in the north you either loved the snow or moved to the Lower 48.

My past 20 years in Michigan has opened my eyes to the volatility of weather in this beautiful state. If you don’t like the Michigan weather at the moment, just wait 15 minutes! The Great Lakes definitely keep our weather forecasters on their toes. If the future-forecasters are correct, your local schools will be looking at more days off during the school year from fog, snow and ice. This isn’t a problem until schools get over the six day mark, their allotment to be forgiven. Once over six, schools are required to add days to the end of the year. Since extending the calendar may become the new normal, it’s time to start rethinking the whole agrarian and tourism calendar setup forced upon schools by the legislature.

The Michigan legislature wants schools to have more days but doesn’t want them starting before Labor Day because of the potential for tourism – you can’t have it both ways! If we continue on this path, students will be going to school in late June and early July when the temps can reach into the 90s! Most rural schools don’t have the resources to update their aging buildings to put in AC for those late months.House Bill 4844 is a good compromise. While allowing districts to start school before Labor Day, it makes the Friday before the holiday a mandatory break. This solution makes sense since most schools are already on their second football game before school even officially starts! The bill is sitting in the House Tourism Committee and probably won’t get out, as this is the fox watching the henhouse. It’s time for you to contact your legislator and let them know they can’t have it both ways – schools need to be able to start before Labor Day.

Dr. Finch can be reached at and followed on Twitter at CFinchMOISD