Tuesday, March 16, 2010
The Pennsylvania Department of Education has started to hand out waivers to school districts that have asked to hold fewer than 180 days of class this year. State law mandates that each district complete their 180 instructional days by June 30th. Most district’s build extra days into their schedule in case they have to cancel class for one reason or another, however, this year’s record snow fall forced some districts to run through those days and more. The department has received nearly 50 waiver requests this year and more could be coming. So far, none have been rejected and five have been approved. Those five are Penn Trafford, East Allegheny, Canon-McMillan, Elizabeth-Forward, and Philadelphia. Canon-Mc and Elizabeth-Forward were granted three days and the other schools were given two days. Department spokesperson Michael Race says many of the districts were asked to fill out a survey-like document outlining their situations. He says a deadline of March 31 was put on that request and the Department will make decisions about individual districts as the information is received. Race says the Department gets waiver requests every year but this has been an exceptional year. Most districts try to close their doors in mid June, which would leave a week or two to hold classes before the state deadline, but Race says the department is considering more than just the June 30th deadline. He says things like graduation ceremony dates and other fixed events are being considered. The Pittsburgh Public School District has asked for a waiver but race says the state is still awaiting additional information before making a final decision.