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State Board of Education says ‘no’ to waivers for missed school days

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State Board of Education says ‘no’ to waivers for missed school days

Members of the state Board of Education unanimously decided to reject all waiver requests from county school systems trying to get to the required 180 school instructional days following a tough winter.

 Shauna Johnson in News | WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Students in all 55 county school systems in West Virginia will have to complete 180 days of school before their summer breaks can start. For some, that will mean staying in class until nearly the end of June.

On Wednesday, members of the state Board of Education voted unanimously to deny waiver requests from 27 counties seeking to use accrued time – banked hours and minutes of instruction – to make up school days missed this year because of bad weather or other reasons.

Originally, the Board had offered the waivers as options for counties struggling to get to the instructional day mark that is set in state law. Gayle Manchin, president of the state BOE, said a closer reading of the law revealed the waiver limits.

“We saw what we were allowed to grant on a waiver on. We are allowed to grant Saturdays, Sundays, holidays that would still ensure that all children got 180 separate days of instruction,” Manchin said.

“You could use accrued time to actually make a full day out of what had been a partial day of credit. Unfortunately, the waivers that we received were asking for accrued time to end up counting for a full day of instruction.”

For that reason, Lloyd Jackson, a BOE member, argued against the granting of any waivers.

He said there is plenty of room in the school calendars for built-in makeup days. “People forget about that part of the statute. They forget that, in addition to requiring 180 (days), we also made it much more flexible for school boards to do so,” he said.

“SB 359 says, ‘We don’t care if you couldn’t get there that day. You’ve got to have 180 separate days so you have to make that up,'” Jackson said. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin sign SB 359, the education reform bill, into law in 2013.

Jackson cited Cabell County as an example, a county that is making up more than six snow days this year. Because of how the calendar was developed, students there will still be getting out on May 29 this year. The original school end date in Cabell County had been May 20.

“Build those days in early,” was the advice from Manchin to county superintendents who are currently developing next year’s school calendars.

Legally, the school year cannot go beyond June 30. As of now, students will be in school in parts of West Virginia through June 25.