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State Board of Education temporarily revives weather exception to class time

The local accountability of school boards when class time is missed was crucial to the State Board of Education’s debate Thursday over providing districts with a mechanism for handling lost time due to weather. 

Before approving a temporary rule amendment, the board requested language changes to reinforce the value the board places on class time and the need to fully justify to the public when that time falls shorter.

The amendment proposed by the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) allows districts to request permission from the deputy superintendent of public instruction to count up to 14 hours of missed instructional time toward the requirements by OAR 581-022-1620. Districts that need more time, with the approval of their school boards, can ask the State Board of Education for a one-year waiver of the instructional time requirements.

The amendment had broad support among school administrators, but some parents and students expressed dismay at the lost instructional time.

Oregon Administrative Rule 581-022-1620 requires 900 hours for K-8, 990 hours for grades 9-11 and 966 hours for grade 12 per school year. ODE used to allow districts to count up to 14 hours for emergency school closures, but in 2015, the board phased out the inclement weather exception. It was unavailable for this school year, but the temporary amendment restores that option.