School year might be defined in hours, not days

With some schools closed until after the Christmas break, state Education Commissioner Lyonel Tracy said he is “very willing” to consider forgiving missed days.

State law allows school boards to request a waiver of the 180-day school calendar requirement when weather or other emergencies result in a significant amount of lost school time.

“My expectation is that superintendents will review academic programs to determine what needs to be accomplished between now and the end of the school year and to establish a schedule to accomplish those critical educational tasks,” Tracy said in a statement released Wednesday.

“After a superintendent and the school board consider available alternatives, as Commissioner, I will be very willing to consider requests for a waiver,” Tracy said.

In the statement, Tracy said many inquiries have come into the state about waivers for the 180-day requirement. He said school districts should consider their options only after operations have returned to normal.

Tracy added that in the state’s minimum standards, another alternative involves offering a minimum number of instructional hours (990 hours for middle schools and high schools, and 945 hours for elementary).