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WV Board of Education shows support for local control, flexibility

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On Dec. 11, the West Virginia Board of Education showed support for local control and flexibility among county school systems and voted to pass Policy 3234 – School Calendar.

"Transitioning more authority to local school systems is a natural progression in our journey to improve student achievement," said Gayle Manchin, WVBE president. "Counties and schools know what is best for their students and setting a calendar is an integral part of the process."

Policy 3234 was developed to meet the requirements of Senate Bill 359, which made changes to numerous laws impacting public education, including those related to the school calendar.

The changes were made to provide county boards of education more flexibility in adopting a school calendar each year that meets their individual needs, while at the same time requiring the county boards to provide students with 180 separate days of instruction.

In October 2013, the suggested revisions were placed on public comment for a period of 30 days. During the 30 day comment period, 184 comments were received.

All of the changes go into effect for the 2014-15 school year. They include:

Public Hearings: County boards will be required to hold at least two public hearings before adopting a school calendar each year to allow all interested parties to discuss the proposed calendar.

Instructional Term: County boards now have the discretion as to what type of day is used to make up a canceled instructional day. They can use available non-instructional days or use an out-of-calendar day. This allows a county board to protect a particular non-instructional day, such as the preparation day for the closing of school, from being used as a make-up day.

Length of Employment Term: The beginning and closing dates of the minimum 200-day employment term has been extended from 43 to 48 weeks. 

Instructional Support and Enhancement Days (IS Days): The five Instructional Support and Enhancement (IS) days have been eliminated.

Recovery of Lost Instructional Time: County boards are required to adopt a policy that requires additional minutes of instruction be added to each instructional day, or additional instructional days added, to recover all time lost due to late arrivals and early dismissals. 

The school calendar policy does not mandate a year-round school calendar but gives county boards of education and multi-county vocational centers the flexibility to set such a calendar if the community thinks a balanced schedule is the most appropriate for its students. The policy also does not eliminate co-curricular trips.