Administrators looking for state guidance to alter school schedules after power shutoffs | TheUnion.com

Administrators looking for state guidance to alter school schedules after power shutoffs

Sam Corey
Staff Writer

Like many Nevada County schools, the Penn Valley Union Elementary School District only has two “no-school days” written into its schedule.

But the school district has already used five no-school days, said Torie England, district superintendant. That’s three more than what they’ve accounted for.

That’s because the district was affected by two rounds of power shutoffs, including those during late September.

Nevada County Superintendent of Schools Scott Lay said the California Department of Education has told him schools should have more than two no-school days in their calendars, but it never recommended a maximum number.

“That would have given schools guidance,” said Lay, later adding, “I think the hesitancy is because, geographically, there’s different issues” between school districts in the state.

Now, schools — like those in the Penn Valley district — need to add more school days into their school calendars. But to do so school administrators must negotiate with the California Teachers Association to adjust teacher contracts.

“If you’ve set your beginning and end dates, that’s in the contract,” said Lay. If teachers are done on June 10, for example, there could be a contractual issue to tack on extra school days at the end of the school year.

England said a state education department representative told her schools can apply, and will most likely get, waivers for their no-school days due to the power shutoffs, limiting the make-up days needed.

In general, England said her school district needs more no-school days built into its calendar.

“From my perspective, I think we need four or five (missed days),” she said.

This helps not just with teacher schedules, but also because schools must have 180 days in their school year or will lose thousands of dollars.

For now, England, like Lay, said she had “no clue” about how the state will suggest schools alter their schedules.

Jonathan Mendick, a spokesperson for the California Department of Education, said it has guidance on how schools should make decisions about whether to close schools for a day. Mendick didn’t address how many no-school days districts should have. He also didn’t outline how schools should renegotiate their school contracts with the teachers association.

Lay said he was informed that state guidance is coming soon.

To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey, email scorey@theunion.com or call 530-477-4219.


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