By Bob Weaver

County school systems in West Virginia will be required to provide at least 180 days of instruction for students each school year, but would also have more flexibility to meet that mark, said State Superintendent James Phares.

State education officials have been declaring for over a decade that students must have 180 days of instruction each year, with the legislature backing up the declaration in code.

With a few exceptions, it just hasn't happened in most West Virginia counties.

"School systems were handcuffed by all of the particular mandates and requirements that didn't ensure that 180 days of instruction was delivered to every student," Phares said.

Now comes yet another policy that requires counties to guarantee 180 days, giving county school systems more leeway to meet the 180 day goal.

School trips and teacher training have counted as instructional time in the past, but Phares says no more.

He defines "instructional time" as "when students are in class."

A 2002 article on the Hur Herald said the West Virginia Legislature was serious about having students in school for 180 days a year. (See Link Below)

In 2010, with much fanfare, the West Virginia Legislature passed a law eliminating the arbitrary start and end dates for the public school year.

The first year under the new law, just changing the start and end dates was not an answer, according to the WV Department of Education.

In 2011, the WV Department of Education said only ten counties reached 180 instructional days. Forty-five counties had anywhere from 179 down to 172.

The state department did not count lack of instructional time with two-hour or early-out days, with some school systems racking up 20 or more such days a year.

The 2011 rule made progress from the 2009-2010 school year, when no county hit 180.

That year bad weather forced counties to miss an average of 15 days and pushed the statewide average for instructional days down to 170.

Calhoun Schools, during that year, improved with 177 instructional days, after having 13 days canceled.

Clay County, of the regional counties, had the fewest days of instruction during 2010-11 with 174.

None of the regional counties had 180 days.

But now, the problem is solved.

See related stories ABSENT STUDENTS COULD MEAN ADDED INSTRUCTIONAL DAYS - Legislature Serious About 180 Days In Classroom

HOUSE OF DELEGATES BUCKS TEACHER UNION - Votes To Guarantee 180 Instructional Days

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