Absenteeism reported in parts of W.Va. where school year continues

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Absenteeism reported in parts of W.Va. where school year continues
By Shauna Johnson in News | June 18, 2015 at 11:50AM

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As we near the end of June, schools are still open in parts of West Virginia, but some students who attend those schools are already starting summer vacation.

“I knew there was going to be an absenteeism issue,” said Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, of the low attendance reports to MetroNews.
On Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline,” he shared a story involving his daughter who is a teacher and had three students in her class during one of the final days in her county.
“The kids were upset that she actually expected them to do work,” Lee said. “Well, if we’re instructing 180 days, we’re going to instruct 180 days.”

Senate Majority Whip Daniel Hall (R-Wyoming, 09) said low attendance was reported throughout his district that includes parts of Raleigh, Wyoming and McDowell Counties.

Hall claimed attendance was 7 percent and 9 percent at two unnamed schools in his district on Thursday. At one school with more than 300 students, he said 35 students were in class Wednesday and, in one case, a school bus ran its route while empty this week.

“I kind of thought it was going to be a problem, but had no idea to the degree that it is,” he said.

For the 1st time this year, counties were required to meet the 180 instructional day mandate even if the school year had to be extended through June. By law, the school year cannot go beyond June 30.

“The 180 separate day requirement is not working,” concluded Hall while talking about the numbers on Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline.” “I believe that’s what most people would support — quality time in the classroom. Well, they’re not getting it now.”

Hall, a former teacher, is an advocate for measuring instructional time by minutes, not by days.

Lee argued school time is not just about quantity. “Whatever we use, whether it’s days or minutes, we have to look at the quality of instruction during that time and, when we’re spending five to eight weeks testing, that’s taking away the instruction time, that’s taking away the quality instruction time,” he said.

According to information provided by the state Department of Education, Thursday was the last instructional day for school students in Brooke, Lincoln and Roane Counties. In Roane County, officials were expecting to have final attendance numbers by Friday.

Monday will be the last day for students in Raleigh County. “Their seniors graduated at the end of the May, so they were out now almost four weeks before the rest of the kids are out,” Lee noted.

Tuesday is the final day in Logan County where attendance numbers were not immediately available. Schools in both McDowell County and Wyoming County will be the last to close in West Virginia on Wednesday, June 24.

All of the county school systems still open had to make up missed snow days in the double-digits. Calhoun County, which had the most missed days to account for at 20, finished the 2014-2015 school year this past Wednesday, June 17.

The first school systems to shutdown for the 2014-2015 school year — Braxton, Cabell and Wayne — did so back on May 29.

Lee said he’s interested to see final attendance numbers once they’re reported to the state Department of Education.

“The 180 days is not a magic number. It’s not something that is important,” Lee argued. “Unless everyone buys in — community, parents, students, teachers — everyone buys in that instruction time is important, once that happens, then we will make advances.”

In parts of the West Virginia, the 2015-2016 school year will begin as early as Aug. 6.