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Ohio County Schools Superintendent Kim Miller Voices Calendar Concerns

Ohio County Board of Education member David Croft makes a point during a September board meeting as Superintendent Kim Miller listens. (Photo by Scott McCloskey)

WHEELING — Ohio County Schools have paused planning efforts for a 2022-2023 school calendar amid rumors the West Virginia Legislature could again see legislation that would reduce the school year from 180 to 170 instructional days.

The move is intended to give teachers more days for more professional development and planning, Human Resources Director Susan Nolte told board of education members this week.

There is a feeling in the education community that state lawmakers may attempt to resurrect a bill passed out of the House Education Committee in 2019 prior to the pandemic that would mandate public schools not start the school year before Labor Day, nor end the year later than Memorial Day. The same bill was amended to reduce the number of instructional days in a school year from 180 to 170, but the Legislation died on second reading in the House.

Delegate John Kelley, R-Wood, attempted to reintroduce the legislation in 2020 without the school day reduction included, but it was rejected. This year the bill was again assigned to the Education Committee, but it died in committee.

Superintendent Kim Miller told board of education members she would not be in favor of decreasing the number of days of instruction for students.

“I never want to be the one to decrease the number of days we have our children in school,” she said. “We have other countries around the world who are increasing their days of instruction, and we are considering decreasing our days. That is very concerning.”

She said that she would attempt to communicate with state lawmakers on the issue so that Ohio County Schools “would have a voice” on the issue.

Christine Carder questioned whether it was possible to get 180 days of education in between Labor Day and Memorial Day.

“You can, but it’s tight,” Nolte said.

Delegates Erikka Storch, R-Ohio, and Shawn Fluharty, D-Ohio, didn’t return calls seeking comment Wednesday.

Senate Majority Whip Ryan Weld, R-Brooke, said he has heard of no efforts to change the school calendar in the Senate.

Discussion about the school calendar also led to discussion about starting school an hour later at Wheeling Park High School, and adjusting starts for elementary and middle school to accommodate later start times.

Scheduled school days often have built within them extra hours that are banked to help achieve school hour requirements for the year, and Nolte said changing school start times could affect the school calendar as a result.

The school district has implemented new school bus routing software that could help them to determine whether later school start times are feasible, but the software is not yet in full operation and the information from it is not yet available.

Board members opted to wait until the bus route data is available before discussing any changing of start times.

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