Fairfax County Schools extend year by another day due to snow days

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (WJLA) - The Fairfax County Public Schools district announced Friday it will add yet another day onto the end of the school yearas a result of excessive snow days.

Wednesday, June 25 will now be the last day of the school year for all schools in Fairfax County. Originally, the last day of school was scheduled to be Friday, June 20.

Officials said June 25 will be an early-dismissal day for students.

FCPS had built three inclement weather days into the calendar for the year - but March 17 marked the 11th day of school missed so far this year.

“This has been a unique and challenging year due to snowstorms both early and late in the season,” said FCPS Superintendent Karen K. Garza. “We explored the option of counting instructional hours instead of days; however, our elementary schools would have fallen far short due to our current model of early release Mondays."

"We considered converting those early release Mondays into full days, but that would have eliminated critical planning time for elementary teachers, which was a real concern for us," Garza added.

FCPS officials said Friday that they contacted the Virginia Department of Education to discuss the possibility of a waiver for the three days of June 23 to 25.

Officials said Friday that, since the district had already gone through the trouble of getting the board of education to approve the extra days of June 23 and 24, that a waiver would not be granted.

They also said a waiver would not be granted for June 25 because "state law requires school divisions to certify that all reasonable efforts for making up lost teaching days or teaching hours were exhausted before requesting a waiver." As other Virginia jurisdictions have added time to the instructional day, eliminated early release days, or added full days to comply with the 180-day or 990-hour instructional requirement, it appeared there were efforts that could still be made.

"We understand that adding another day to the end of the school year is not ideal. But we have consulted with our teachers groups and principal associations, and have strong consensus that adding June 25 as a makeup day is our best option," Garza said.

In answer to some parent complaints that extra school days at the end of the year are a "waste" because all lessons are finished, and classes essentially just plan fun time or parties, Garza assured parents that would not be the case in Fairfax.

"We will work with our schools to plan meaningful learning experiences for these June makeup days," she said.

As for the future, Garza promised, "We are also exploring modifications to the 2014-15 calendar to ensure that we are not in this situation again.”

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