COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

P.O. BOX 2120

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120

SUPTS. MEMO NO. 1

January 18, 2008

ADMINISTRATIVE

TO:

Division Superintendents

 

FROM:

Billy K. Cannaday, Jr.

Superintendent of Public Instruction

 

SUBJECT:

Waiver of Pre-Labor Day Opening Requirements for 2008-2009

 

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 statute reads as follows:

 

22.1-79.1. Opening of the school year; approvals for certain alternative schedules. -- 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 10 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, 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 that are offered on a year-round basis by the school division in one or more of its elementary or middle or high schools.

 

Because these waivers must be approved annually, school divisions that received waivers in previous years must reapply for the 2008-2009 school year. School divisions seeking waivers for inclement weather (and other emergency closures under subsection B.1.), related programs, or previously approved experimental or innovative programs must apply to the Superintendent of Public Instruction for approval.

 

SSWS Application

 

Beginning with the 2008-2009 school year application, the department will use an electronic data collection instrument, using the Single Sign-on for Web application systems (SSWS). The following suggestions are offered that will help to expedite your application:

 

      Entering the data will require the use of an Internet browser. Internet Explorer 5.5 or higher or Netscape 6.0 or higher must be used. Please ensure the availability of either browser version at the site(s) at which data will be entered.

 

As with other electronic data collection applications, anyone entering or reviewing Pre-Labor Day waiver data must have a login and password. Your SSWS account manager must assign a login and password to the following individuals: 

1.     The Pre-Labor Day waiver contact person

 

2.     Any central office staff responsible for entering or reviewing data.

 

School divisions will be able to submit an application only if the above items are in place.

 

Additional information related to entering data:

 

Experimental or Innovative Programs

 

First-time Approval: Please note that, if you are seeking first-time approval of an experimental or innovative program or to operate on a year-round schedule, you will need to complete and return the attached application for a waiver of the standards to operate an experimental or innovative program (Form SA.020). All applications must be submitted to the Division of Policy and Communications no later than March 21, 2008. School divisions requesting first-time approval should expect to make a presentation before the Board of Education regarding the need for such programs, as the Board must approve your request.

Evaluation Reports: School divisions receiving approval to continue existing programs in the 2008-2009 school year must submit program evaluation reports to this department using the SSWS application system for each previously approved experimental and innovative program, and the department must submit an annual report summarizing these reports to the Board of Education.

 

Please be advised that the evaluation report will be submitted using the SSWS application system and Pre-Labor Day Waiver application. Later this spring, the report module will become available for use. Those divisions receiving continued approval for experimental and innovative programs will receive notice of the availability of this report later this year.

Please contact the Office of Policy by e-mail at policydata@doe.virginia.gov, or by telephone at (804)225-2092 if you have any questions.

 

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Attachments:

a. General instructions: Pre-Labor Day waiver submission using SSWS (.pdf)
b. Form: Request For Waiver of certain accrediting standards and/or approval of an innovative or experimental program (.pdf)