CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Board of Education adopted a revised policy last week that would allow school systems to make school days longer in preparation of inclement weather and to provide teachers with professional learning experiences.
County school systems would be allowed to add 30 minutes to the minimum instruction day, which will allow five days schools can use in case of cancellation due to weather, as well as five days dedicated to teacher development when students are not present.
The change is the result of House Bill 2711, a measure signed by Governor Jim Justice in April. The law also dissolves the eight Regional Education Service Agencies, which will take effect July 2018.
Board member Debra Sullivan raised questions during a meeting Wednesday about how the change will affect students who benefit from school functions outside of courses.
“A lot of our children come from families that, frankly, aren’t feeding them three meals a day,” she said. “They depend on school to get fed, and I do have a concern that if we cut back on days in schools, that we might be affecting the health of our children and that contributes to a lack of ability to learn at times.”
One board members said they know many schools that provide students with lunches ahead of bad weather days and weekends.
Board of Education President Tom Campbell said the change would benefit schools in areas such as Greenbrier County, in which previous school years have been extended to the end of June in order to accommodate meeting standards.
“Having the longer day is going to be more effective thank tacking on a few days at the end of the calendar,” he said. “Those days tacked on the end are almost counterproductive, but I think the devil’s in the details. It’s how we work with the counties and how they utilize this.”
Sullivan also said school systems should be willing to share ideas in order to make sure students are being treated.
Schools are required by law to hold courses between 315 to 345 minutes a day, with high school students having to spend the most time in the classroom.