Action Needed by School Board and Superintendent on Makeup Days

Earlier, I released a statement in response to the scheduled Saturday makeup days where I expressed our acceptance. However, it’s clear from the response of many of our members, that I should look deeper into the impact of closures due to inclement weather and makeup days on instructional time and employees in Virginia Beach

We’ve analyzed this, comparing days and time lost to state requirements. Having done so, it is clear that VBCPS needed only to make up 2 instructional days, one of which was made up on January 24th, to meet the state requirement for number of days attended.

Due to our extended instructional calendar, the school closures caused by inclement weather did not reduce our number of instructional hours to below state requirements. However, it did have an impact on seat time for high school credit courses, as Virginia Beach was already below the state requirement from day one due to the hybrid 4×4 schedule. This state requirement can be waived, as it has been already.

We know that the makeup day schedule for tomorrow, February 15th, will go forward, and will be the second day of the two required to meet the state requirement for number of instructional days.

Today, we’re asking the School Board and Superintendent to do the following:

1. Cancel all remaining makeup days after February 15th for Virginia Beach City Public Schools. This includes the makeup day scheduled for March 28th, which may be used later in the case of additional inclement weather.

 2. Hold all employees harmless for time lost from closures due to inclement weather. While appreciating the need to show that the district is using taxpayer funds wisely, VBCPS must also treat their employees professionally and fairly. Additional makeup days in the name of justifying spending, and nickel-and-diming staff to make up hours, is an assault to their dedication and professionalism and harms employee morale.

3. Waive the lost seat time for high school credit courses. While we recognize the value of instructional time, this was done to allow for the hybrid 4×4 schedule at our high schools, and it should be done in response to the lost time due to inclement weather.

4. Re-open discussion regarding the 2013-14 school calendar. The School Board and Superintendent need to recognize that the additional instructional days and time built into our 183-day schedule should be used flexibly in the case of inclement weather forcing the closure of schools. Having the goal of a 183-day instructional calendar is great, but this goal should not be preserved at the cost of the major disruptions caused by making up days on holidays or weekends. When needed, this flexibility in our calendar should be used first, then teacher workdays, then holidays, and then weekends as a last resort. In addition, when weekends are used, both Saturday and Sunday should be considered as to not show preference to any particular faith.

The VBEA does share in the mission of VBCPS to provide a quality education to all students, and I truly believe all our members are dedicated to this mission. However, VBCPS employees should be treated professionally and fairly at all times, and this includes understanding the damaging impact of the current makeup schedule has on employee morale and the impact employee morale has on the quality of education. Hopefully understanding this, we look for the School Board and Superintendent to take action on our recommendations above.

– Trenace Riggs, VBEA President