County school systems in West Virginia will have more control over their school calendars following the institution of a new policy. It should be mostly a positive change as school boards look to ensure students are better prepared for the greater demands of the 21st Century.
While the policy does not mandate year-round schooling, it certainly makes it a possibility if the local school board feels it would be the right fit.
As we see each winter, there are many instances where one school district may cancel because of weather, while a neighboring district may only have a delay. This often results in schools from one county having to extend their year while others may not.
In fact, school boards will be required to develop a plan to make up for instructional time lost because of weather, early dismissals or delays. Faculty senates also will be required to meet on non-instructional days.
In other words, local school boards will have more control over how and when these missed days can be made up. In the past, a date was mandated by the state, after which school had to be concluded even if not all of the make-up days had been held.
Also a positive, school boards will be required to hold two public hearings each year before deciding on the school calendar. This will ensure residents are kept in the loop of what actually is being discussed instead of simply listening to the local rumor mill.
There are certain situations where more local control is the best thing for a school system. Our local teachers, administrators and boards of education know better than officials in Charleston what their districts need to meet the needs of preparing their students.
While this new policy might create some confusion at first, especially if there are major differences between neighboring counties, we feel, in the long run, it will be beneficial for us all.