The Fairfax County School Board has voted to add a day to the end of the 2013-14 school calendar as a makeup day for the 11th missed day of the year due to weather. The Board’s action makes Wednesday, June 25, the last day of the 2013-14 school year.
“This has been a unique and challenging year due to snowstorms both early and late in the season,” said FCPS Superintendent Karen Garza.
“We explored the option of counting instructional hours instead of days; however, our elementary schools would have fallen far short due to our current model of early release Mondays. We considered converting those early release Mondays into full days, but that would have eliminated critical planning time for elementary teachers, which was a real concern for us.”
Garza said the teacher’s groups hope to plan meaningful learning options for the extra days.
June 23 and 24 have already been tacked on to the school year as makeup days. June 25 will be an early dismissal day, the system says.
State law requires school divisions to provide instruction for a minimum of 180 days or 990 hours each school year. If the school division cannot meet the requirement for 180 days or 990 hours of instruction because of bad weather or other emergencies, days missed must be made up in accordance with the formula outlined in the Code of Virginia.
This formula requires that the school division must make up the first five days, and then make up one day for every two days missed in excess of the first five days missed by adding instructional days to the school calendar or extending the length of the school day. School divisions may use instructional time built into the school calendar that exceeds the 990 instructional hour minimum or add time to the remaining days to offset the days missed.
FCPS’ adopted calendar for school year 2013-14 identified specific makeup days – Feb. 17, April 7, June 23, and June 24. The calendar approved by the School Board for the current year provided a plan for 10 makeup days. The 11th snow day occurred on March 17, requiring the need for an additional makeup day.
FCPS officials contacted the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) to discuss the possibility of a waiver for June 23-25. VDOE advised that a waiver would not be granted for June 23 and 24 because those days are already reflected in the Board approved calendar for 2013-14 and it would be unlikely that a waiver would be granted for June 25 because state law requires school divisions to certify that all reasonable efforts for making up lost teaching days or teaching hours were exhausted before requesting a waiver.
Other Virginia jurisdictions have added time to the instructional day, eliminated early release days, or added full days to comply with the 180 day or 990 hour instructional requirement.