WV school superintendent talks about schools making up missed days

West Virginia School Superintendent Steven Paine says teachers and students will have to make up the nine days that were missed during the education strike. (West Virginia Department of Education Website)

Teachers and students will have to make up nine days of lost instructional time as a result of the historic nine-day statewide work stoppage, and many counties will be converting spring break to classroom time, the state superintendent told MetroNews.

"Let's be clear. Those nine days will be made up," Steve Paine, West Virginia superintendent of schools, said in the interview. "Those nine days were days that school employees were paid and that's per state code based on the rules of the calendar. So all of those nine days will be made up and all school employees will make those up."

Paine discussed details on the status of the makeup days in a conference call Thursday.

Paine said the days can be made up a number of ways.

"Districts need to consider giving up their spring breaks," he said.

Paine also said some counties already go 30 minutes above what is required and that banked time can be used to make up some of the days that were missed. His other suggestion would be to use days at the end of the calendar to make up the time through June 30.

Paine said each county school district makes up its own calendar, so there is flexibility for districts to figure out how to make up the days. The state superintendent said the state Board of Education will be providing guidance to county school districts.

Prior to signing a pay raise bill that includes a 5 percent pay increase to all state workers, teachers, school service personnel and State Police, Gov. Jim Justice encouraged Paine to explore options for the nine makeup days. Justice said he wanted flexibility in the calendar so kids and their families could still enjoy their summer vacations.

Paine later released a statement saying he would begin working with the state Board of Education to explore all possible avenues for local districts to make up the instructional time that has been lost.

“My staff and I will work with each of our counties to identify every opportunity to maximize meaningful instruction while also minimizing disruption to students and families,” Paine said. “We are committed to providing timely technical assistance to each individual county to innovatively restructure their calendars and to find additional flexibility within their local attendance policies to better accommodate the needs of families. I anticipate each county will communicate promptly with parents and students concerning any changes to the current school calendar.”

Current legislative code requires 180 instructional days in a school year.

"There really is no flexibility [to the 180 day requirement]," Paine said during the conference call Thursday. "It's the law."

Paine said he has asked county superintendents to allow schools to be flexible to accomodate kids and parents during the make up time. Acceptable excuses for absences will be determined at the local level.

All school boards of education must approve changes to school calendars. Paine said he anticipates the changes to be approved by boards in the next two weeks.

Paine also said all graduation dates will be unchanged.

Schools cannot be in session past June 30.

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