COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
P. O. BOX 2120
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120

SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 16
January 21, 2000

INFORMATIONAL

TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: JoLynne DeMary
Acting Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Waiver of Pre-Labor Day Opening Requirements for 2000-2001


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, 2000 to Charles W. Finley, director of accreditation, 
Division for Accountability Services.  School divisions that received waivers in 
previous years must reapply for the 2000-2001 school year.  If you have questions, 
please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Finley at (804) 786-9421 or by e-mail to 
cfinley@pen.k12.va.us.

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