CHARLESTON, W.Va. — County school systems in West Virginia will be required to provide at least 180 days of instruction for students each school year, but would also have more flexibility to meet that mark, with a proposed policy from the state Board of Education.

State Superintendent James Phares said, up to now, county officials have been restricted in many ways when scheduling school years.

“School systems were handcuffed by all of the particular mandates and requirements that didn’t ensure that 180 days of instruction was delivered to every student,” he said.

This new policy, Phares said, will change that by requiring counties to guarantee 180 days, no matter the weather.  With it, local officials will decide what schedule works best for their schools.

“We don’t see any reason why they can’t meet this particular mandate,” he said on Friday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

Changes to the school calendar are part of the education reform law.  This BOE policy deals with how those calendar changes will be specifically implemented in each of West Virginia’s counties.

In addition to opening up the scheduling window for staff members from 43 weeks to 48 weeks, the proposal also eliminates the calendar days for school trips and teacher training that have counted as instructional time in the past.

Phares defines “instructional time” as “when students are in class.”  He said time spent, at work in classrooms, leads to better student achievement.  “To believe that the two are separate and don’t go hand in hand together is probably more of a myth than it is a reality,” he said.  “They do go together.”

With the proposed policy, county school systems would be required to hold at least two public hearings before adopting a school calendar each year.

The state Board will take comments on the proposed policy for the next 30 days.  If approved, it could take effect in time for the 2014-2015 school year.

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  • SB WV

    Well said SCH. I'm anxious to see what will happen with state tournaments. No field trips? Then they should hold state tournaments on weekends.

    • wvu999

      In the School Law Book state tournaments are considered instructional time for students. Its a total joke

      • Leo

        Athletes also are not held to the have and "maintain" a 2.0 average, which is a joke, should be a 3.0, and checked regularly. They get on a team and then do nothing in class but are not benched because hey, someday they might be a professional, NOT

  • WV Worker

    Year round these not mean everyday of the week, they will get off several weeks at a time during the year and in some cases a month. It suppose to help retain information of what they have learned. The only thing do all schools have air conditioning, do all busses? The months of July, Aug and here lately several others are extremely hot. Children with asthma will have a hard time with the heat. But if they fix that problem, air conditioning, you may be surprised how well they adept to the new calendar. Several states already have it and it seems to work. It will be a big change but change is good sometime, I would feel better if my child rode the bus on a sunny day than 5 or 6 inches of snow on the road, wouldn't you. Safety is a real issue. Sure contracts will have to be made but that's no big deal. ADJUST that's all.

  • SCH

    Joe it wasn’t an attack on your child or any other child. It was an example of what many believe all teachers do, which in realty many teachers have become the person who has to teach manners, social skills, and ensure children are cared for and protected in their home environment, while providing their education. All the while parents bash teachers and develop disrespect in their children for teachers. Times have changed so much since I was growing up. Parents didn't take their child's word over the teacher. When a school contacted the parent concerning an issue it was taken care of at home, now parents want to know why the teacher, witness, and principal are all picking on their child when the school calls home with an issue. One last thing let me ask you this question. The student's loaded on the bus and went home yesterday I stayed an additional 2 hours and 45 minutes on Friday to grade papers, and developed 6 different sets of lesson plans for the coming week, by choice to be prepared for school Monday. I don't use the same lesson plans from the year before and change the dates as others seem to think. When your work day is over how long do you stay after work to prepare for the next work day by choice?

  • BK

    The European school system does not include interscholastic sports, just intramurals. Their academic standards are much more stringent than ours. I find that curriculum and instruction are watered down to keep "student / athletes" eligible. I suggest our WV public schools ban interscholastic sports and focus on intramurals. The top athletes will be discovered by colleges via club sports programs or AAU.

    • Mac

      Oh my! You just stepped on the "third rail" of the education mess. We MUST have athletics in Jr. and Sr. high schools so that the future of WVU sports, as well as professional sports, can prosper. Heaven forbid we don't send our super jocks, some of whom have their grades "advanced" by Principals in order to be eligible to play, to the collegiate level to help universities build incredible sports programs so that nit-wit coaches can receive millions of dollars - and still not reach a .500 season or better. Who really wins here? Hello? Crickets!

  • Shadow

    I vote for parents being responsible for lice checks rather than the teachers.

  • Joe

    @SCH.....your comment about my kids was completely out of line. I feel sorry for any parent who has a child in your classes with that attitude. BTW - those parents also contribute to your pay and benefits, and have every right to voice an adult opinion. A little advice, leave the attacks on the kids out of your comments.

  • Joe

    I would bet that Mrs. Sponagle, recently named teacher of the year for WV, and the other three nominies who also have demonstrated performance and committment in their teaching roles look at this directive and say, "OK, I understand. Let's accept the challenge and execute to achieve". I personally believe this would be true for the majority of the fine teachers in WV who truly perform and deserve individual merit raises.

    Unfortunately, it is the other half that the union protects without fault regardless of performance and refuse to allow the others to receive the career and pay advancement they have earned through performance and professionalism.

  • lifetimehunter

    I don't like the idea of year round schooling at all... Kids need the interaction that goes along with a tradition of summer. Family time.

  • Eddie

    Hey Joe, I want a raise.

    • Joe

      Hi Eddie....

      I'll see what I can do! :-)

      • The bookman

        Hey joe

        Maybe Eddie should see what he can do!!!

  • CaptainQ

    I would be more in favor of something like this IF the time the kids spent in class was all actual 'teaching time.' From what I've heard, in many schools when teachers run out of things to teach, they show movies in class. NOT educational films, but actual Hollywood movies to occupy the classtime. I don't believe that these are isolated incidents but more like the 'norm' for WV student classrooms.

    If this new policy change would eliminate THIS practice, I could support it. Chances are, it wont and it'll be a mute point anyway since the teacher's unions are going to fight this change tooth and nail. Make no mistake about it, the leadership of the WVEA and WVFT still have plenty of political clout in Charleston.

    • Leo

      Yikes CaptainQ looks as if you might need to go back to school to learn correct use of grammar. Does the Q stand for quit school early?

  • SCH

    Joe I am so glad you pay my salary, benefits and pension. I actually thought I was contributing to those with the taxes taken from my payday, real estate property tax, personal property tax, .54 cents a gallon gas tax, income tax owed and paid to the state and federal goverment every year, and any other tax West Virginia can come up with. Let me be the first to thank you. I will try my best to teach your child to say do you want fries with that sir.

    • The bookman

      I think you may be proving joe's point...the State Superintendent believes 180 days of solid seat time correlates to higher achievement...the national norm is 180 days...our boundary states make up each and every day...again I give Phares the credit for standing on principle and doing everything he can to address these issues head on...and you dear sir or Madame appear to be whining about it!

  • SCH

    I am sure several parents would prefer year round school. The few that work will have their baby sitters year round, and the check drawing population will have the kids out of their hair with baby sitters year round.

    • Leo

      Well said.

  • wvu999

    And any day of any week of the school year you can go to any walmart, mall or shopping center in the state and see hundreds of school age kids shopping with their parents instead of going to school. Until education is important at home and students attend school faithfully it wont matter if you mandate 364 days a year because it wont matter.

    Oh, lets not forget, lets shut down an entire county school system for state tournaments, too. That is considered a school day. They learn so much eating popcorn, drinking Zuls and watching a game.

    Until we are serious about education this is laughable.

    Let the teacher bashing begin.

    • NCWV

      Any idea how many of those mid-day shoppers may homeschool their kids? They still have to pay taxes but don't get the free education.

      Have to agree about the athletic stuff. Big waste of time for very few students.

      • wvu999


        Let's make a bet. Me and you go to the shopping center of your choice on the school day of your choice. We will ask school age children if they are homebound. For every one that is Ill give you 100 for every one that isn't you give me 100.

        As for very few at sporting events. I agree THOUSANDS isn't that many.

        I hope you are being silly and not serious. If not .... Wow

  • WVU86

    It won't take long until the unions start their very tired arguments. Eliminating "calendar days for school trips and teacher training that have counted as instructional time in the past" hopefully means a riddance to those bogus half-day faculty days.

  • Joe

    As a WV taxpayer of teacher salaries, benefits and pensions, this sounds like a very practical and effective solution to address full calendar year school schedules.

    That said, let the whining begin from the WVEA, AFT and their union teacher members.

    • Mac

      Sorry to burst your bubble "Joe" - but 95% or more of your professional educators will have no problem with this new calendar. They understand the value having the seats filled for 180 days of true instruction. The rub will come with the service personnel, (custodians, cooks and bus drivers) who will need new contracts since they "must" work within a window of a specific number of weeks. By extending the school year to accommodate the required 180 instructional days, their work days prior to the openng and closing out the school year will go beyond their current contract. That will require negotiations for a new work contract. So, don't blame the teachers, the service personnel are going to shout from the highest mountains in West Virginia for a "fair and just contract" which will cost the state and each county more money.

      • Joe


        Respectfully, given that the Lewis County teachers are suing over the 'right' to wear blue jeans in class, I believe 95 % to be way too high a number. History has shown stiff resistance to any change in work rules, dress code, organizational changes, etc.