State moving to "minutes" calendar to handle weather delays and cancellations

Dozens of school districts across Texas delayed or canceled classes this week because of the flooding.
Now, parents have questions on what this means for makeup hours for the rest of the year. Under current rules, students still get credit for a full day if their school was delayed. Beginning in the fall, that will change.

Right now, 180 days is the standard school year in Texas. With that comes two bad weather makeup days. Beginning this fall, statewide, 75,600 minutes will be the new standard. The law passed in 2015.

"That 75,600, by the way translates into 180 days of instructional time," Debbie Ratcliffe, Texas Education Agency Spokesperson, said.

So the time is the same, the only thing changing here is the method of measuring it.

"A few districts have transitioned early. What they've tended to do was add about ten or 15 minutes to their school day, so they bank some extra time to cover days like we've had this week," Ratcliffe said.

This will stop schools from having to use holidays like Good Friday and Memorial Day as makeup days. This week's two hour delays were ok, because students spent at least four hours in class, so they won't need to make it up.

“When they've actually had to close for bad weather and use those makeup days it's made a lot of parents unhappy because they've had other plans for those days," Ratcliffe said.

Two bad weather make up days translates into 840 minutes. So if the districts extend their school days slightly and bank those minutes, it will keep them from having to dip into holidays to make up for missed class. It could be a win-win for students and their families.

"Instruction is absolutely important to us but safety is our first concern when we have bad weather," Ratcliffe said.

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