SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 13
January 22, 1999
|FROM:||Paul D. Stapleton
Superintendent of Public Instruction
|SUBJECT:||Waiver of Pre-Labor Day Opening Requirements for 1999-2000|
Section 22.1-79.1 of the Code of Virginia prohibits the opening of schools prior to Labor Day unless a waiver is issued by the Board of Education for good cause. The 1998 General Assembly amended the statute to define "good cause" for granting waivers. The amended statute reads as follows: 22.1-79.1. Opening of the school year. -- A. Each local school board shall set the school calendar so that the first day students are required to attend school shall be after Labor Day. The Board of Education may waive this requirement on a showing of good cause. B. For purposes of this section, "good cause" means: 1. A school division has been closed an average of eight days per year during any five of the last ten years because of severe weather conditions, energy shortages, power failures, or other emergency situations; 2. A school division is providing, in the school year for which the waiver is sought, an instructional program or programs in one or more of its elementary or middle or high schools, excluding the electronic classroom, which are dependent on and provided in one or more elementary or middle or high schools of another school division that qualifies for such waiver. However, any waiver granted by the Board of Education pursuant to this subdivision shall only apply to the opening date for those schools where such dependent programs are provided; or 3. A school division is providing its students, in the school year for which the waiver is sought, with an experimental or innovative program which requires an earlier opening date than that established in subsection A of this section and which has been approved by the Department of Education pursuant to the regulations of the Board of Education establishing standards for accrediting public schools. However, any waiver or extension of the school year granted by the Board of Education pursuant to this subdivision or its standards for accrediting public schools for such an experimental or innovative program shall only apply to the opening date for those schools where such experimental or innovative programs are offered generally to the student body of the school. For the purposes of this subdivision, experimental or innovative programs shall include instructional programs which are offered on a year-round basis by the school division in one or more of its elementary or middle or high schools. We anticipate that again this year, legislation will be considered to repeal or amend this provision and that any amendments may change the criteria for issuing waivers. Depending on General Assembly action, we hope to finalize this process by April 1. School divisions wishing to apply for a waiver must complete and return the attached application form by March 15, 1999 to Charles W. Finley, Director of Accreditation, Division of Accountability Services. School divisions that received waivers in previous years must reapply for the 1999-2000 school year. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Finley at (804) 786-9421 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. PDS/cwf Attachment: A hard copy of this memo and its attach- ment will be sent to the superintendent's office.