By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) – As snow days pile up, the spokesman for a top Pennsylvania lawmaker says there may not be enough time to pass legislation to waive the 180 day school requirement for this year. But that same spokesman says the Department of Education has more leeway than it thinks to give schools a break.

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State law requires 180 days of class and 900 hours for elementary students, 990 hours for secondary students, each year. Steve Miskin, spokesman for the House majority leader, says the ranking members of the House Education Committee believe the Department of Ed has the ability to allow districts to meet the requirement through minimum hours instead of days.

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“And we had some lively conversations over the last couple of days, because we believe that the Department of Education does have some flexibility.”

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A spokesman for the Department of Ed says yes, districts can opt for the minimum hours standard in lieu of 180 days, but they have to demonstrate “educational merit,” not just cite bad weather. Miskin says having kids in class constitutes educational merit.