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.