The Arkansas Board of Education approved waivers for 75 school districts across the state, allowing schools to restructure their calendars after missing excessive numbers of school days because of inclement weather.
The state board met Thursday and approved waiver requests that now will shorten the required 178 days of instruction for Arkansas schools seeking not to extend classes into mid-June.
At least 60 school districts have canceled part of their scheduled spring break in an effort to meet the minimum school day requirement.
A school district has to close its doors for at least 10 days because of bad weather to be eligible for a waiver. Two districts, Decatur and Quitman, were granted fewer since they did not meet the 10-day criteria.
Commissioner of Education Tom Kimbrell said the districts have done a good job of making up the days they could.
“They’re making up 10 days, but some of them are actually getting waivers for seven days, five days…it’s pretty phenomenal,” he said.
Not all districts asked for a waiver. In Springdale, administrators decided to decline the offer.
“Springdale did not ask for a waiver because we were able to get most of our instruction days in before state testing in April,” said spokesperson Rick Schaeffer.
Three of the largest school districts in Northwest Arkansas, however, asked for waivers, which were granted by the state board.
Students in Fayetteville and Rogers missed 13 days and now only have to make up 11 of those school days. In Bentonville, 13 days were missed, but students only need to make up 10 days.
Further north in Madison County, the Huntsville School District asked for 11 of their snow days to be waived. Huntsville school officials said they missed at least 22 days of school this winter.
“It simplifies things. I don’t think it would have been a good idea to go into the third week of June,” said Huntsville Supt. Robert Allen.