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Legislature fails to pass adjustment in 180-day school calendar

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Legislature fails to pass adjustment in 180-day school calendar
By Jeff Jenkins, WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — If West Virginia schoolkids are going to avoid heading to school in mid to late June their counties will have to get a waiver from the state Board of Education. A bill creating a way to use instructional minutes to convert to instructional days died on the last night of the legislative session.

The bill (SB537) passed the House of Delegates early Saturday evening but got hung up in the Senate where it was potentially going to be used as a vehicle to resurrect the charter school bill. The Senate later abandoned that idea and refused to agree with the changes the House made to the bill.

It was clear House members wanted to provide a way for school districts not to go to school for 180 instructional days because of weather problems or other emergencies. House of Delegates Education Committee Chair Amanda Pasdon (R-Monongalia) told delegates Saturday the new 180-day requirement, which just kicked in this year, wasn’t the best for public education.

“The one-size-fits-all approach in the current school calendar law just doesn’t work for all of our school systems,” Pasdon said. “Making up separate days of instruction could have children in our snowiest counties going to school well into June when families have already made summer plans.”

The current requirement says the school year can extend to late June to get the 180 days in.

Del. Denise Campbell (D-Randolph) said she’s already heard from parents.

“I’ve received several emails from parents very concerned about not being able to attend 4-H camp, not being able to go on trips that were already planned the second week of June,” Del. Campbell said.

Dozens of counties have already missed double-digit days this school year and were adjusting their calendars to make up those days.

Del. Ricky Moye (D-Raleigh) said it’s a good thing to make minutes count.

“This bill will allow that to happen. It’s very needed and it’s a long time in coming,” Moye said.

Since the bill didn’t make it Saturday, the issue will likely be taken up by the state Board of Education, which passed a policy last week that would create a waiver system for school districts to build up instructional minutes to replace instructional days.

The policy says the county has to show a good faith effort that it’s done all possible to reach 180 instructional days.