CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A vote is expected to come next month from the state Board of Education on a school calendar policy that would give county school boards more flexibility .
State Superintendent Jim Phares adds the policy does not require year-round school, but rather encourages school systems “to drop down those learning gap times where the loss of learning takes place.”
The changes to the school calendar are part of the education reform law and will replace the current policy which Phares argues restricted county officials in many ways when scheduling school years.
He said this new policy gives those officials more flexibility to meet the 180 days mark. “I believe it gives each individual county the unique opportunity to develop a calendar that’s best suited for their county,” said Phares.
With it, each county school system would also have to come up with a plan, with the personalized calendar, to compensate for inclement weather.
“The core principal is there,” Phares said. “We want them to be in school for 180 days and we want the counties to be able to determine when those 180 days will be based on that county’s needs.”
With the proposed policy, county school boards would also have to hold at least two public hearings before voting on a schedule. Phares said this is another important piece to the policy.
“The board still has the sole authority to approve the county calendar, but I still believe that this is a powerful, not policy driven initiative, that actually allows engagement of the citizens,” he adds.
Phares explains that it makes sense to have the public involved because they are usually the first people school officials hear from when school is closed or not closed.
The state Board of Education is currently in the process of considering feedback received during a 30 day comment period on the proposal.
Board members are expected to vote on the policy at their next meeting in December, so the change could go into effect for the 2014-15 school year.