WINFIELD, W.Va. -- The Putnam County Board of Education will hold two public hearings during its regular March meetings to finalize the 2014-15 school calendar.
The board hopes to start the school year on or around Aug. 22, its 2013-2014 start date, but will also ensure it has enough leeway to complete the state-required 180 days for the year, assistant superintendent Cindy Daniel said.
After the recent chemical leak and harsh winter weather prompted extended school closings, Daniel said the county is unlikely to make the 180-day target this year.
"We've been instructed to use every day that we can, and we will," she said. "For the counties affected by the water crisis, every day we can take, we will take.
"This year, because the new calendar hasn't gone into effect yet, there isn't much else to do," Daniel said. "Teachers' employment terms end June 12."
Policy 3234, part of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's education reform bill, allows local school boards more flexibility to decide when students should attend school based on the district's individual needs, but it also holds them more accountable to provide at least 180 days of instruction and requires approval from the Department of Education.
According to Daniel, the county will be able to complete 174 instruction days barring any more school closings.
"We've missed 16 days in total, and we're going to be able to make up 10 of those 16," Daniel said. "We have six Outside School Environment Days which are already built in at the end of the calendar, so we're using those, we have one Continuing Education Day, and we're using three Instructional Support Enhancement Days, which are usually reserved for faculty senate and professional development for teachers."
The county's schools have earned "accrued time" by going over the minimum amount of instruction time required each day, and while it will not count toward the overall total, Daniel said it was important for parents to realize their children had not missed as much instruction time as they might have thought.
"You can't use accrued time to take the place of an actual day, but in essence, we have had the equivalent of six extra days of school," Daniel said. "Six is the minimum, because we took the school with the least amount -- some schools have more than that."
The next two regular Putnam BOE meetings will be at 7 p.m. March 3 and March 17 at the board's offices in Winfield.
Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nu...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.