School systems may be in bind to meet 180-day requirement

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School systems may be in bind to meet 180-day requirement
By WV MetroNews Staff

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It appears it’s going to be difficult for county boards of education to get special waivers to allow them to miss the 180 instructional days required in state law.

State Board of Education President Gayle Manchin released the following statement Friday:

“The West Virginia Board of Education remains firm on the importance of providing students 180 separate days of instructional time.  With that in mind, the board is asking county school systems to review their current calendars and work with their parents, teachers and communities to determine the best options to make up lost instruction.

Only in worst-case scenarios, the board will consider approving county waivers that include the use of West Virginia Day and Memorial Day as well as Saturday school to make up instructional time. This is a viable option only if a county has shown that it has in good faith built a calendar which contained opportunities to make up lost time and has rescheduled all available non-instructional days.”

The state legislature failed to pass a bill that would have allowed counties to make up the lost time by adding minutes to instructional days.

The state BOE first began discussing the waiver option earlier this month. Board member Wade Linger was the only one to vote against it.

He said a 180 instructional day mandate was included in a 2013 state law for a reason.  “We were going to be strict about this and we were going to get these 180 days in and, if we said we were going to do it, I just felt that we should,” Linger said.

As the law is currently written, county school systems must make up missed days to get that minimum level even if it means extending the school year through the end of June.  In parts of West Virginia, school students have missed more than 15 days, so far this year, because of weather.

“We knew when we did it (created the 180-day mandate) that this day would come and we said, ‘No, we’re going to sit our foot down and we’re going to ask that it be put into the law,” Linger said.

“It snowed before 2013 and it’ll probably snow a lot after 2013 and we did the best we could to allow the locales to use their judgment and their priorities to set their calendars, just as long as they got their 180 days.”