Vancouver Public Schools Superintendent Steve Webb will request an emergency instructional-day waiver, subject to school board approval on Feb. 14, from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The request is based on the state of emergency declared by Gov. Inslee in response to the January winter storm, which necessitated for safety reasons the closure of schools on Jan. 11, 12, 13 and 17.
Washington state requires 180 days of instruction (or an average of 1,027 instructional hours). Winter weather events in December have caused VPS to use all four emergency closure makeup dates built into the board-adopted 2016-17 school calendar. Those days are Jan. 30 (semester break) and June 19, 20 and 21.
The four lost days due to the January storm would extend the school calendar to include June 22, 23, 26 and 27. Consideration for the waiver include potential hardships for families who have planned and purchased summer vacation travel, high school students who depend on summer employment and employees who enroll in continuing education programs. The district ensures that it can meet the statutory requirement for an average of 1,027 instructional hours if the waiver is granted.
With the loss of four days, the district’s current projected annual average, barring any other weather-related closures, is 1,051, or four school days above what is required. The district does not have an option to cancel SBAC testing for 2016-17, because this assessment is a legal requirement.
OSPI has statutory authority to approve or deny instructional day waivers. Once OSPI verifies its decision, VPS will publish the updated calendar as quickly as possible.
If approved, the waiver would excuse students only from making up the four lost days. The district is working with employee bargaining groups on a plan for teachers and staff members who were off duty during the snow closures to makeup those days.
To minimize lost instructional time during the first semester, VPS has extended the semester to Feb. 2. First-semester finals will be held Feb. 1 and 2. Second semester will begin Feb. 3. Presidents Day, spring break and graduation dates remain unaffected.