CHARLESTON, W.Va. — County school systems in West Virginia now have some extra flexibility when it comes to adopting a school calendar each year.

The West Virginia Board of Education Wednesday approved the policy that allows for more local control and flexibility among county school systems.

The policy, which was created in part to meet requirements set out by the Education Reform Bill, gives each county the opportunity to create a calendar that meets its individual needs.

“Randolph County should be able to make their calendar and under this new bill they are allowed to,” said state School Superintendent Jim Phares. “Mon County should be able to make their own calendar and under this they are allowed to.”

Phares said the board felt calendars are not best determined in Charleston, but rather out in the field.

Along with the added flexibility, the policy requires the county boards to provide students with 180 separate days of instruction.

In a normal year, schools should have no problem meeting that requirement. But in years like last year with the derecho and Hurricane Sandy, it may be more difficult.

Phares said in those cases, under the policy, schools can ask for a waiver for declared federal disasters.

“They can also ask of a waiver of the state superintendent if there is extreme circumstances that exist in a county that allows us to waive that policy for them with the state board’s approval,” he explained.

In addition to the waivers, the policy also gives counties a wider window of when you can start school and end school. Instead of 43 weeks, they now have 48 weeks.

Phares said this idea goes along with giving counties more flexibility with their calendar.

Under the policy, county boards will be required to hold at least two public hearings before adopting a school calendar each year to allow feedback from the public on a proposed calendar. 

Boards also now have the discretion as to what type of day is used to make up a canceled instructional day and the five Instructional Support and Enhancement (IS) days have been eliminated. The one thing the policy does not force is year-round school.

Phares said this policy does not mandate a year-round school calendar, but rather just gives counties the option to choose to do that if they believe that fits them.

With the board giving final approval of the policy Wednesday, the changes are set to go into effect for the 2014-15 school year.

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Comments

  • Roxanne

    We as a nation have already lost site of what is important when it comes to our children. We have taken god out of school, we have taken strict discipline from the home and school. It has become more important to make sure our kids go to school and are in school 180 days instead of getting a quality education each and everyday they are there. When the economic outcome is less important to the general public then making sure a child is in school for that said 180 days you my friend have lost site of what is important in life. Money makes life possible more than a 180 days sitting in a classroom is worth. If this was not true then going to college would be free.

  • Senior who is glad to soon be out.

    I feel the new calander with cause and uprise in bullying. I know other students who look forward to days off and summer breaks so they can get away from the bullies. My school is probably the worst school around when it comes to bullying becuase the teachers nor principals will not do anything about it. How are these students suppose to escape ftom them? In some cases bullying follows kids home and still nothing is done except for the innocent deleting their social media. The police cant do anythimg unless theres a threat and the school board refuses. Have they took bullying into consideration?

  • Dale

    Overhaul the system. WV does not need 55 Boards of Education.

    • Aaron

      Amen. Follow the RESA model and govern the county with 8 Superintendents at 8 administrative offices supported by scaled down staffs and put the savings back in the schools.

  • leon

    Ill take bets that there will still be counties that don't meet 180 days !!! And if they do extend into late June or eary July, what will % of attendance be? But it makes no difference, let them fail, give them credit recovery while attending regular day and boom you've met your state graduation rate requirement.
    Doing away with ISE days is terrific. Simply a waste of time. You can't afford teacher pay raises, why not reduce 200 day contract filled with worthless in-service idiotic days to 183 days. One in-service teacher work day to start school, one in middle and one at end. Teachers work 17 days less at same pay and actually are happier. No in-service day has ever made a better techer. Education is about consistency. When is the last time a school system has had 20 consecutive days in a month ? Oh yeah, my favorite- students may not miss instructional time for athletics. What about festivals such as Buckwhwheat, Forest etc., and deer hunting, and what about bands attending events ???? I would love to know a year or any year that Preston, and other such counties have met the 180 days of instruction ?????

    • mntnman

      I'll take that bet. 180 days is mandated -- so it will happen.

  • Harpers Ferry

    Using "there" instead of "their", starting sentences with the word "but", poor sentence structure. Another outstanding piece of journalism by WVMetronews!

  • a concerned educator

    The lengthened school calendar could have an impact on local and county parks (i.e. pools) since they will lose money because students will be in school, not at the pool. Kanawha County Parks and Rec. lost money last August due partly to their early school start. This calendar also negatively impacts family's abilities to plan and take vacations. Families cannot plan ahead because they will never know from year to year when school will start or end. Some vacations, especially those to national parks or overseas, may require reservations over a year in advance.

    In addition, an early start prohibits students from working in the summer. Many students need this time to earn money for college, etc.

    Finally, the idea of a 180 calendar is not set throughout the world. For example, students in Finland only attend school 170 days per year, and their school day is shorter than the U.S. Teachers in Finland also receive 140 hours of inservice training each year compared to 18 in WV. It is not necessarily the quantity of time you are in school but the quality of education you receive.

    Again, I don't want to be nostalgic, but when I was a kid, we started school the Tuesday after Labor Day, and we finished no later than June 8. I firmly believe that I received a MUCH better education than my children are receiving today.

    • Rick S.

      Those are some good points. It would be a shame to negatively impact county parks and local swimming pools and family vacations and summer sports camps (as mentioned by Sam) and summer jobs for students and teachers for the sake of education. We would not want to lose sight of what is most important.

      • Golfman

        Exactly, Rick.

        I'll translate in a few short sentences what " a concerned educator" really means:

        I want to get paid for less than 180 days of work. I don't want to be held accountable to my contract. I want snow days so I don't have to work and I can get paid for it. I want to get out of work early in the summer so I can go to the pool. So I can plan MY vacation. The world revolves around ME and MY schedule. The students and their education can go to h e l l."

        • Gilbert Gnarley

          Concerned educator, methinks you found a nerve with Golfman.

          • a concerned educator

            Gilbert, Rick, and Golfman

            That was not the intention of my posting. I am not a teacher or a coach. However, I do base my posting on research. For example, if you look at the research from Ohio State University, you will find that year round schooling does not benefit students' grades or learning. If you take two students, one on a year round school and one on the calendar we have now, the student on the current calendar will be up to level with the other student by October. Most teachers have to review at the beginning of the year anyway, so there is no true loss of education. Second, year round schooling is more expensive than the typical schedule. The state of Virginia just completed a major study of this concept. The results indicated that it costs 3% more to follow the year round calendar. In addition, there were NO benefits to student test scores, except for students who were black.

            Although I am not a teacher and do not work for the public school system, I do a lot of work for them. I strongly believe in a quality education, but there are far more important aspects of education than the 180 day rule. This includes issues with student truancy, student discipline, parent support, and cutting out the insurmountable amount of wasted paperwork that teachers have to complete that has no relevance to the instructional day. If teachers had the time to teach, as well as support from parents, you would then see a difference is educational success.

        • taxpayer

          I agree with Concerned Educater. So many other things will be impacted by this nearly year round school calendar. In my county, there are children beginning elementary school who are not yet potty trained. These same children can't identify letters and numbers or spell their name. Parents have had them at home for five years! What are they doing instead of engaging their children? Teachers can only teach so much. It has to be followed up with at home and supported. It's not about vacations and teachers being selfish. Our education system is broken.

      • Sara

        Nonono

    • The bookman

      As I saw your post this morning, I became anxious to read it after enjoying your prescient comments from yesterday's commentary...I don't follow you today however. Are you making the argument now that Finland manages 170 days so we shouldn't expect 180 because they are doing better than we are? Kind of opposite of your point yesterday...180 is the standard in this country, and the law in WV. Achievement in public schools at the expense of public pools is a trade off I can accept...the abuse of out of calendar day scheduling by county systems has led to this more restrictive policy, and therefore is largely self inflicted. I don't think the calendar debate is as important a topic as some of the challenges detailed in yesterday's commentary, but if county systems want to implement year round calendars, this change needs to occur.

      • a concerned educator

        Bookman

        I am not opposed to the 180 day rule, but I do not support year round schooling. My second post reinforces my belief. However, I just wanted to people to realize that with year round schooling, there are also negative aspects. I have NEVER deemphasized the importance of education. I believe that it is key is lifelong success, not just at the public school level but also through vocational training or college. Some type of skill is needed for all individuals.

        I have never been a supporter of ISE Days. In my opinion, they are a waste of time. I am glad they are gone. They should never have been counted as instructional days.

        I just believe that there is not enough time spent actually teaching, and too much time spent on other things that do not support the education of our students. As the parent of two children, I see this in their schools. For this reason, I just don't believe that the calendar change is going to make much difference.

        • The bookman

          I am not an opponent or proponent of year round school..I am however about local control and accountability...my understanding is that this policy will grant flexibility to school districts to achieve the state mandated 180 days... It in no way requires a year round calendar...so why the resistance to the change in policy? Is it 180 days or is it the ability of local schools to choose a year round calendar? Should local school districts have the authority to make decisions like year round calendars, or not?

          • a concerned educator

            Bookman

            I agree with you that the new bill does not require year round schooling, but I also see many counties moving toward this aspect of education.

            I can see both pros and cons regarding local control. I am not a fence rider, but I have not yet decided how much local control should be allowed. I do believe that it is fine for each county to decide on their calendar, whether it be 180 days or year round. They just need to be aware of the benefits and weaknesses of each.

          • Myron

            Not without teacher approval.

          • The bookman

            My understanding is that moving to a year round calendar, which by the way is 180 days as well, requires a deliberative process including mandatory public meetings...I also trust no one is rushing into it...I happen to know many people who teach and work in year round schools...after adjusting they find they enjoy the schedule although performance doesn't really change...so as I said earlier...bigger issues to tackle than this, but we need to get it behind us, the 180 thing, as it divides and distracts us from focussing on the bigger issues facing education in this state! Any ideas on strengthening the family unit?

          • The bookman

            Myron you a such a one trick pony! Always your interest first...yes you get to be involved for sure!

          • a concerned educator

            Bookman

            You are correct regarding the public hearings. The policy states that two public hearings must be held before a calendar is approved.

            I have also heard that some teachers really like the year round calendar. However, I also know of school districts, such as ones in Indiana, that have returned to the traditional calendar.

            In terms of strengthening the family unit, I am not really sure how it can be accomplished. It seems as if the overall family structure has disappeared for many children. This has definitely had a negative impact on the entire educational system. My spouse is a teacher who often sees parents who just don't care about helping their children. One parent even told my spouse that it was not their responsibility to help with homework. The parent then stated that was why teachers got paid.

            There are many tough issues in education. After reading your last post to me, it has made me think about the 180 day debate. I agree with you that it is not worth debating anymore. However, I will still hold strong on my beliefs opposing year round schooling, especially with the research not showing the benefits.

            I appreciate you giving me something to think about. I believe that discussions of this, when done respectfully (which you have definitely done) are quite beneficial.

  • Sam

    The calendar offers more flexibility for counties but less flexibility for students and teachers. It creates a summer limited to the month of July. That means that students will not have the a real summer vacation when you tie the summer athletic camps and other camps that students attend. There ability to earn money through summer jobs will be eliminated. Teachers will have less time for training and further education. Also many teacher rely on summer jobs to exist.

    My big question is why are so intent on 180 day school year when we do not have a compulsory attendance law that requires students to be in school?

    • Myron

      Exacty, Sam.

    • mntnman

      We do have a compulsory attendance law -- until 17 years of age.

    • Aaron

      As we are no longer an agrarian society, why do students need the entire summer off?

      It seems to me that we would be better off going to year round school, expanding the instructional days from 180 to 200/210, expand the curriculum to bring relevant educational opportunities outside of college preparatory classes and remove compulsory attendance beyond middle school levels.

      High school students should be required to maintain scores to attend with those who don't want to be there sent home. The goal of our schools should be to educate our children, not babysitting.

  • Pam lucas

    It's good for kids to get a education but if u make them go yr around not having time to rest there brains than there will be more drop outs it hate to see that

    • Toolman

      I hope you are not a teacher, good grief!

    • Steve

      Rest their brains? What does that even mean? I don't think people in the private sector get a 2 month break to "rest their brains". If you don't think year round school is a good idea, that is one thing. But to "rest their brains" is not a valid reason.

  • Myron

    Year round school in additional counties will not happen without complete teacher support and implementation of appropriate and overdue compensation increases.

    • susanf1218

      It also will not be successful if parents refuse to send their children to school during the summer. Time for civil disobedience! I don't have any kids in school now, but if I did, I sure as hell wouldn't send them to school during the summer!! As I recall, the sacred 180 day "rule" is also dependent on school attendance. If half or more of the students were to be absent, then I don't think that can count as an instructional day. That would kind of ruin the state BOE's evil scheme, now wouldn't it!

    • Golfman

      And here we have the standard teacher whining of I need a raise.

      You are overpaid as it is. Stop your damn whining. Your Christmas break is coming up soon.

      • Concerned Citizen

        Mr. Golfman,
        Obviously, you have no clue as to what teachers content with on a daily basis. Students coming to school unprepared, hungry, behavioral issues, and academically behind due to a culture which devalues education. On the teacher end, teachers are expected and demanded to attempt to meet the needs of every child in classes of 25-30 where half are reading below grade level. Students of poverty come to school with limited vocabulary so are behind from the start. As a culture, it is easy to see teachers as glorified babysitters. However, nothing can be farther from the truth. They work evening grading papers, making calls to disinterested parents, deal with stigma of being responsible for test scores of students whose parents refuse to send them to school, and media continually stating that schools are failing. Service personnel gets paid overtime for any work done outside the scheduled workday but teachers do not. Yes, there are bad teachers and the teacher associations protect them but overall you will not find a more caring group of individuals than teachers. I challenge you to take a week and try to deal with what teachers contend with on a daily basis. In fact, you have absolutely no clue.

      • Gilbert Gnarley

        Golfman, are you still carrying baggage from the fourth grade?

        Time to let it go.

      • Brian

        Just go play some more Golf (glad you get all that time off to do so....., of course, I work 6-day weeks so I'm guessing YOU get a hackofa lot more time off than I OR teachers do!).
        And let the teacher-hate go for gawds sake buddy!
        You do realize that over %50 of the adults between 18 and 60 DO NOT work at all in West Virginia (in fact an article in the Daily Mail awhile back stipulated that number could be as high as %60!).

        So Golfy, let me see if I have your logic correct: you hate teachers that work, pay local/state/federal taxes and all hold a BA or higher - but it's ok that HALF the adults in WV pay little or NO taxes and recieve essentially FREE money FROM the state and federal government evey two weeks...........gottacha.

        Sound reasoning.

      • susanf1218

        I'm not a teacher, not employed by the school system, and have no family members who are. Don't ASSume you know anything about me, Sir!

        • The bookman

          Susan,

          Golfman responded to Myron...not your post!

          • susanf1218

            Whatever. Or whoever. Either way, he was make ASSumptions!

    • mntnman

      You understand that "year round" is still 180 days of instruction. It is just broken up differently. Usually, it is 9 weeks on, 3 weeks off, with a 5-6 week break during the summer. The only thing that changes is the calendar, not the number of days. You could tailor the calendar in any way you chose -- the idea is to reduce learning loss during 10-11 week summer breaks that we now have. By the way the current calendar was designed so children could be home during the summer to work on the farm. We live in a different time now. Perhaps its a good idea, perhaps not. But its worth talking about.

      • kev

        With all these arguments for year round school, I would like to know how we ever made it through school and got a great education before. Evidently some of the greatest generation, CEO, presidents and others have all done so poorly before. Maybe it was the quality of teachers and curriculum being taught that got us through. It is a shame how we want kids to grow up so fast anymore, lets let them be kids and enjoy summer vacation. Those are some of my fondest memories not the ones setting in class.

        • a concerned educator

          Kev

          You couldn't have said it better! I commend your wisdom.

        • mntnman

          Different time; we have global competition; we teach more, sooner; no more one room classrooms. We teach all children, even those with serious impairments, etc, etc, etc

          To compare today to sixty years ago is a mistake. The world is different, society is different. We have to live in the world we have, not the one we'd like to have.

          Remember, in those days, only white males had a chance. Women, people of color, the disabled were after thoughts. The "good ole days" depend on your perspective.

          I prefer now, with all its problems. I want to fix what we have, not pine for some ideal that never really existed.

    • Aaron

      I have two responses to the subject of overdue compensation.

      First, given the total compensation package and the hours worked that teachers receive, they do very well in the state of WV.

      Second, we know money will not solve our issues in this state. When Governor Caperton acquiesced to teacher demands and raised teacher pay to 32nd in the nation, taxpayers saw no noticeable improvement in the end product.

      While I agree that if the number of instructional days increase, teachers should be compensated proportionately, to suggest that compensation issues should be primary to the discussion is, in my humble opinion, inappropriate.