School calendar must now comply with new legislation - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

School calendar must now comply with new legislation

PRINCETON, WV, - West Virginia's 55 counties are studying a new set of rules for developing the school calendar.
To make employees, parents, and public aware of the new rules, the legislation stipulates that districts host two public information sessions prior to submitting their calendar to WVDE.  In Mercer County, the meetings will be held April 25th at 6:00 PM in the auditorium of Bluefield High School and April 29th at 4:00 in the MCTEC Seminar Center. 
On May 22, the WV House of Delegates joined the Senate in almost unanimously approving Governor Earl Ray Tomblin's education reform package.  Among other changes, the law lengthens the number of weeks over which the school year may extend -- allowing more local control -- but also imposes stricter adherence to the 180-day rule.
Beginning in July 2013, school districts must schedule and deliver 180 separate days of instruction, and each of those days must meet the minimum amount of hours provided by state Board rule.   Every "snow day," delayed opening, or early dismissal must be made up using any non-instructional day or out-of-calendar day, regardless of the purpose for which it was designated.  Once the district has exceeded the number of "built in" makeup days, instructional days must be added to the end of the school year. 
As in previous years, employees will be compensated for 20 non-instructional days which include 7 holidays, an Election Day, 6 Outside School Environment Days, and 6 other days that districts may designate for continuing education / development, parent conferences, preparation for the opening/closing of school, professional meetings, or make-up days.
Districts may no longer schedule Instructional Support (IS) Days.  Counties are required, however, to provide at least one 2-hour Faculty Senate meeting every 45 instructional days.  These meetings may be conducted on non-instructional days or after an instructional day with compensatory time provided.  Faculty senates may schedule additional Faculty Senate meetings on non-instructional days as they see fit.
To effectively meet the new requirements, the Mercer County Board of Education unanimously agreed to several parameters for proposed calendars:  They should (1) allow the maximum number of instructional days possible before WESTEST 2; (2) allow completion of first semester by or around Christmas; and (3) imbed sufficient make-up days within the calendar to avoid adding numerous days to the end of the year.
Employees, parents, and public are encouraged to attend the April information sessions.  During the first week of May, Mercer County Schools employees will have the opportunity to cast their votes for one of two calendar options. 
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