Legislature delays break to work on school reforms

LANSING, MI – The state Legislature will delay its winter break by at least one day as lawmakers try to wrap up a deal on school reforms. The reforms would qualify the state to compete for up to $400 million in federal "Race to the Top" funds.

Lawmakers say they are close to a compromise. But they say there is still work to be done, with much of the disagreement centering on how charter schools should be regulated.

Democratic state Representative Tim Melton says there have been several speed bumps in the negotiation process.

"It's not easy," Melton says. "These are, again, probably 20 years of reforms that we're trying to get accomplished here. It's been very difficult for a lot of people to come to grips with this stuff, but, like I said, we made a good-faith offer trying to break the log jam, and we're just waiting for them to respond."

Lawmakers on a joint House and Senate panel are also debating the high-school dropout age, the high school Algebra-two requirement, and teacher tenure issues.

The Legislature will reconvene at the state Capitol Friday afternoon to try and forge a last-ditch compromise.