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State board rejects all 29 180-day waiver requests

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Board of Education on Wednesday unanimously denied requests from 29 counties to bypass state laws that require 180 separate days of instruction, a benchmark many districts will only meet this year by pushing the last day of school well into June.

The move comes one month after the board agreed to allow county superintendents to request instructional time waivers for their districts after a mild, but at times harsh winter closed schools for weeks. All counties in West Virginia missed at least seven days this year, while some, like Barbour and Calhoun, missed as many as 18.

While board members and Superintendent Michael Martirano have maintained they would not back down from the 180-day requirement, Department of Education officials indicated last month that counties may be permitted to use “bank time” to make up for lost instruction. Board President Gayle Manchin said Monday that using bank time was discussed but that “no one said it would be used to make up full days of instruction.”

Whether prompted by that confusion or not, all 29 applying counties asked the board to let their superintendent use bank time to reduce the number of instructional days that would need to be made up.

Bank time is accrued by schools that teach longer than the minimum amount of time required by the department each day. Currently, it only can be used to make up lost instruction from two-hour delays and early dismissals.

By denying the waivers, the board upheld instructional mandates outlined in Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s 2013 education reform legislation…

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