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Requirement for 180 separate days of school instruction dropped in Senate bill

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Requirement for 180 separate days of school instruction dropped in Senate bill
By Shauna Johnson, WV MetroNews

A bill moving at the State Capitol two weeks into the 2017 Regular Legislative Session would end West Virginia’s existing requirement for 180 separate days of instruction in the Mountain State’s schools.

“I think that, in the end, you’ll have better results with this,” predicted Senate Education Committee Chair Kenny Mann (R-Monroe, 10) who spoke in favor of the bill that’s been altered only slightly from the version of the bill the Senate approved last year.

He called it a “great step in the right direction” before the Senate advanced SB 242 with a 33-0 vote.

It removes the word “separate” as it pertains to instructional days in the school calendar from state code.

Additionally, it designates one non-instructional day for teachers as a preparation day for opening school and another day for closing school; allows teacher preparation days to be used for certain other purposes at teacher discretion and increases the number of two-hour blocks for faculty senate meetings from four to six.

It also allows accrued minutes to be used for lost instructional days and addresses the use of “re-imagining student instructional days,” which include work assigned for home on snow days, to meet the 180 instructional day requirement.

Such days should exhausted before accrued school minutes are used for lost instructional days, the bill says.

Mann saw the bill as an important teacher morale booster.

“As a businessman, I’ve always been the kind of person that, if I can’t afford to pay you right now what you’re worth, I’m going to back it up in appreciation,” said Mann. “I think this is something (like that).”

Flexibility is the goal, Mann said. “I don’t want this to be about a dollar bill or just a numbers game. I want it to be, ‘Use your time wisely.'”

If approved in the House of Delegates and signed by Governor Jim Justice, the changes would take effect on July 1, 2017.

Before the Senate floor session, Mann was a guest on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline” which originated from the State Capitol where the session continues through Saturday, Apr. 8.