Mars School officials support flexible instructional day program

March 13, 2019 Cranberry Local News

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ADAMS TWP — Mars School officials say they would benefit from flexible instructional days, and are asking state legislators to make the concept law.

During Tuesday's meeting of the Mars School Board, members approved a resolution supporting the enactment of legislation codifying flexible instructional days into law.

According to Superintendent Wesley Shipley, the concept of flexible instructional days was presented in 2014, with districts given the option of participating in a three-year pilot program. In total for the current school year, 12 districts throughout the state opted in.

The program allows students to work from home after the second missed school day. This allows the district to get the required number of instructional hours without needing to make up missed days during or at the end of the school year. Shipley said the first two days would be traditional cancellations for inclement weather or other issues.

Locally, Seneca Valley participates in the three-year pilot program, which expires in June.

Shipley said as the pilot program comes to an end, officials were hoping to see an extension. However, the Department of Education said that would not happen, and instead suggested asking the state legislature to add the program to the school code. The resolution that the board passed Monday supports that, Shipley said.

“We would very much benefit from the addition of (flexible instructional days),” he said. “We've invested a lot of time and money into our technology infrastructure … and training for our students and teachers on how we could operate an emergency type of a day from home.”

Shipley said students in grades 9 through 12 are able to take school-issued technology home. He noted students who don't have access to the education portal would be given flexible time to complete assignments.

Over the past decade, the district has had three years where more than six cancellations led to additional days being added at the end of the school year. The current year's calendar has no room for additional cancellations moving forward.

“To have this available to us would allow us a lot of flexibility with our calendar,” Shipley said, adding he had also reached out to legislators to voice his support.

The board unanimously approved the resolution. Christine Petrini of the district's teachers association added the group also supported the resolution.

The board met in executive session prior to the meeting to discuss personnel.

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J.W.  Johnson Jr.

J.W. Johnson Jr.

J.W. Johnson Jr. is the bureau chief of the Cranberry Eagle. Johnson is a native of Bellaire, Ohio, and graduated from Bellaire High School in 2004. He is a 2009 graduate of Ohio University in Athens with a bachelor of specialized studies degree in English and journalism. While there, he served as a reporter and editor at The Post, the university’s student-run, independent newspaper. In 2009, he was hired as a reporter for The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register in Wheeling, W.Va. Over the course of eight years, he also served as Marshall County bureau chief, city editor and news editor. He also won two first place West Virginia Press Association Awards for his reporting and design work. He and his wife, Maureen, live in Carnegie.