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W.Va. counties brace for 180-day school mandate

By Roger Adkins

Exponent-Telegram

CLARKSBURG — Starting next year, West Virginia school systems will be required to provide a minimum of 180 instruction days, with no exceptions made for school cancellations due to inclement weather.

According to Senate Bill 356, county boards of education must provide 200 employment days per term and 180 separate instructional days. County school administrators also must have plans in place for inclement weather and emergencies that guarantee the minimum of 180 instructional days, according to the bill.

The state law places no restrictions on what time of year school can be held. This leaves year-round schedules as an option, along with earlier start dates and extensions to the school year to make up for instruction days missed due to inclement weather, school officials said.

“The calendar goes into effect next year. The new calendar says you must have 180 days of instruction, regardless of how you get there,” said Susan Collins, superintendent of Harrison County Schools.

School systems in rural counties are more likely to have to close school during inclement weather, Collins said. The new mandate could force those counties to hold classes into June if they don’t start the school year earlier, she said.

Doddridge County is largely composed of secondary roads, said Denver Burnside, president of the Doddridge County Board of Education. A lot of students live on those roads.

When the weather gets bad, rural routes are the hardest to traverse, he said.

As a result, the Doddridge County Board of Education set its school year to begin in early August, Burnside said.

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