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State Board Of Ed Wants More Info On Whether E-Learning Days Can Replace Snow Days

Jason Kuffer

The State Board of Education will take more time before deciding whether more schools might be able to take advantage of using the web to help avoid snow make-up days.

The board asked the Department of Education to gather more data on the use of e-learning before the next State Board meeting on January 7th. The board also asked lawyers in state Superintendent Glenda Ritz‘s office to deliver what they believe is the legal authority for Ritz to authorize e-learning in lieu of make-up days, while board members will consult their own lawyers and ask the governor‘s office for potential action from the legislature.

The board got involved after one school district - the Twin Lakes School Corporation - announced last month that the Department of Education would allow them to use e-learning days instead of adding days to the school calendar in the event of winter weather. Some board members, including Brad Oliver, wondered if learning online was an effective replacement for a classroom day, and Oliver also wonders whether Ritz had the authority to authorize additional e-learning days. "We are expanding the scope and the use of e-learning, and all I am saying is that because we are expanding its use and applying it to a situation it has never been applied to, I think we need some help from the legislature in terms of what they‘d like to see happen," Oliver said.

Ritz‘s office says schools can allow students to complete work at home on snow days. Dozens of schools took advantage of it during the historically snowy January this year, with many receiving waivers from Ritz‘s DOE on the requirement of 180 instructional days during a school year. Ritz‘s office has suggested that is not a hard requirement, something else to which Oliver took exception. "The entire time I was in administration, both as a principal and as a central office administrator, we sure wrote a lot of attendance letters and threatened a lot of prosecution of educational neglect because people were not in school for the required number of days."

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