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Do students have to make up snow days lost? Will teacher pay be cut if they don't?


Q: Old man winter hit hard this year and school has been closed many days because of snow and ice. Do students have to make up lost instructional time? Can teacher pay be cut if students do not make the time up?

A: Instructional time and making up lost days are local decisions. However, the state ties money from the Basic School Aid Fund to a minimum standard. Once a school division falls below the minimum the state requires the local school board to make at least some time up.

Virginia Code section 22.1-98 establishes 180 teaching days, or 990 hours, as the minimum school year. If the school calendar adopted by your local school board exceeded the minimum by providing more than 180 teaching days or 990 hours, your school board will decide how much of the extra time to make up.

If your school year did not exceed the minimum, or if the time lost takes you below the minimum of 180 days or 990 hours, the state requires some teaching days/hours to be made up. The first five (5) days below the minimum must be made up. The local school board may apply for a waiver from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to avoid making up the next five days (days 6 through 10) below the minimum. The same procedures require make up for days 11 through 15 and allow application for waiver for days 16 through 20.

State approval waiving the minimum days or hours of instruction does not allow any reduction in local appropriations for schools. The amount paid to teachers need not be reduced because instructional time is reduced; the state can make a proportional reduction in state aid if teaching salaries are reduced.

Read the confusing statutory language yourself by visiting http://leg1.state.va.us/ , clicking on the Virginia Code, and searching for 22.1-98.  Given the amount of snow across Virginia this year, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction may send local superintendents additional information or guidance on the issue of make-up time.

Remember, state law addresses the minimum instructional time required to receive state aid. Your local school board retains discretion to exceed state minimum time standards by scheduling, or making up, time that the state would excuse.


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