Murphy calls for better planning in future to ensure students, educators don’t lose valuable academic time
The State Board of Education today approved Secretary of Education Mark Murphy’s recommendation to “forgive” up to six school days lost because of inclement weather.
In recommending the reduction of hours, Murphy stressed the importance of quality instructional time for students as well as teachers’ great need for sufficient preparation time. He balanced these significant needs with the safety challenges faced this winter due to weather while urging better planning in the future to end the need for state “forgiveness” of weather days.
“The adults in our educational system – the teachers, the counselors, the school leaders – they all rely on time to help facilitate their work, their learning, their planning and their reflection. And it is these things that subsequently drive the outcomes we all seek for our children,” Murphy said. “While the outcomes are improving, they also are sobering when looking at the number of children who do not show success at the end of high school.
“Now, maybe more deeply than ever, our students need an incredibly strong foundation to thrive beyond school and lead our state and communities in the future,” he said.
Murphy said this year because of extreme weather students and teachers have had time – that critical variable – robbed from them.
“They need and deserve to have it returned. Our educators need it, and our children need it,” he said.
Murphy said he also must consider the safety challenges caused by this year’s weather and with that context would ask the State Board to approve the state offering “forgiveness” for the days when Governor Jack Markell declared a State of Emergency or closed state offices. Those days were: Jan. 3, Jan. 21, Jan. 22, Feb. 3 (New Castle County only), Feb. 13, March 3 and March 17 (Kent and Sussex counties only).
Under state law, districts and charter schools must ensure students receive the minimum number of hours required: 1,060 hours for K-11 and 1,032 for 12 (see 1049: http://delcode.delaware.gov/title14/c010/sc03/index.shtml). Many districts and charters build in extra time to their calendars, but if they have more lost time than that or don’t build any in, then they need to make up the time.
There is a provision in the law that they could appeal to the Secretary of Education and State Board of Education to reduce the number of required hours for some circumstances. (Title 14 1305 (h): “The Department of Education with the approval of the State Board of Education may reduce the number of hours devoted to actual school sessions for pupils and/or educators for just cause or upon showing unusual circumstances.”).
Some schools have missed about 10 days of school this year because of weather. All 19 school districts and several charter schools requested “forgiveness” due to inclement weather this winter. Other charter schools did not request forgiveness because they already provide enough additional educational hours in their calendars that the snow days did not cause them issues.
In making his recommendation, Murphy noted he recognizes the need for better planning in the future so students and educators do not lose the time they need and deserve.
“Moving forward, I fully expect our district and charter leaders to directly address this challenge of ensuring adequate time for both educators and students. I expect that they will work with their communities, their parents and their teachers to build in the strategies to ensure our students and educators are not robbed of learning time,” he said. “And I expect that should we happen to have another set of challenging weather next school year, we will not see requests for ‘forgiveness of time.’ ”
Murphy praised those districts and charter schools that already are moving forward on plans to make up missed time for students and teachers this year: “I encourage these districts and charters to continue with their plans for making up this time, and I applaud them for recognizing the importance and value in making the time up for our students and teachers.”
A request by Seaford School District to forgive three student days for high school students missed due to construction issues in August was not approved.
The following days were requested by districts and charters:
New Castle County
- Appoquinimink School District: Jan. 7, Feb. 3, Feb. 13 and Feb. 14
- Brandywine School District: Jan. 7, Feb. 3, Feb. 13 and Feb. 14
- Christina School District: Jan. 7, Feb. 3, Feb. 13 and Feb. 14
- Colonial School District: Jan. 7, Feb. 3, Feb. 13 and Feb. 14
- MOT Charter School: Jan. 3, Jan. 7, Jan. 22, Feb. 3, Feb. 13 and March 3
- New Castle County Vo-Tech School District: Jan. 7, Feb. 3, Feb. 13 and Feb. 14
- Newark Charter School: Feb. 13 and March 3
- Red Clay Consolidated School District: Jan. 7, Feb. 3, Feb. 13 and Feb. 14
- Caesar Rodney School District: Jan. 3, Jan. 22, Feb. 13, March 3 and March 17
- Capital School District: Jan. 3, Jan. 22, Feb. 13, March 3 and March 17
- Lake Forest School District: Jan. 3, Jan. 22, Feb. 13, March 3 and March 17
- Milford School District: Jan. 3, Jan. 22, March 3
- POLYTECH School District: Jan. 3, Jan. 22, Feb. 13, March 3 and March 17
- Positive Outcomes Charter School: Jan. 3, Jan. 22, Feb. 3, Feb. 13, March 3 and March 17
- Smyrna School District: Jan. 3, Jan. 22, Feb. 13, March 3 and March 17
- Cape Henlopen School District: Jan. 3, Jan. 22 and March 3
- Delmar School District: Jan. 3, Jan. 22 and March 3
- Indian River School District: Jan. 3, Jan. 22 and March 3
- Laurel School District: Jan. 3, Jan. 22 and March 3
- Seaford School District: Jan. 3, Jan. 22 and March 3
- Sussex Technical School District: Jan. 3, Jan. 22 and March 3
- Woodbridge School District: Jan. 3, Jan. 22 and March 3