Our office has received many calls and emails wondering what the impact of snow days will be on the school calendar. We appreciate the suggestions and we understand the concerns many of you have expressed. However, it's still not clear what PPS is planning and, therefore, what our response will be.
District officials have already closed schools nine times this year due to inclement weather. State law requires that schools meet a minimum number of hours of instruction and these snow days will no doubt have an impact on the District’s ability to meet these state requirements.
On January 26th, the Oregon State Board of Education is holding a meeting to review various options to deal with this problem, including giving districts more flexibility in calculating hours of instructional time. Oregon state officials clearly understand the budgetary impact of extending the school year, not to mention the disruption this will cause for families and school employees.
As they have stated, “The question before the State Board is how to balance the need to maintain instructional time requirements and provide some relief for school districts that are faced with unprecedented weather and resulting school closures.”
In particular, the proposed temporary rules state:
Districts faced with extreme situations have two options. First, districts could request permission under 581-022-1920(3) to count towards the instructional time requirement up to 14 hours for emergency school closures due to adverse weather conditions and facilities failures. If the request shows approval by the local school board, the request may be granted by the Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction and would not require a vote of approval by the State Board. The proposed temporary rule only makes this option available to districts for the 2016-17 school year.
Second, if a school district decides that 14 hours is not enough and would like to request a one-year waiver of the instructional time requirement, the district would have the option of making a request under the Division 22 waiver provision in OAR 581-022- 1920(1 ). Requests for a Division 22 waiver must be made in writing and must be approved by a vote of the State Board.
This is excellent news for PPS, because if a waiver is requested and approved, the PPS Board will not be required to adjust the calendar again or mandate additional school days. Any move by the PPS board to require additional days would be by choice and any adjustment to the school year calendar is now subject to bargaining.
PAT is currently in discussions with PPS about the various options.