Seven Oklahoma schools must add days next year after State Board denies waivers

Seven Oklahoma school districts will need to change their 2022-23 school calendars after the State Board of Education denied them waivers to continue with shorter-than-normal school years.

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The board voted 6-0 to deny applications for “alternate calendars” with fewer than the minimum 165 days required by state law for these schools:

  • Bridge Creek Public Schools, Grady County
  • LeFlore Public Schools, LeFlore County
  • Battiest Public Schools, McCurtain County
  • Morrison Public Schools, Okmulgee County
  • Jennings Public Schools, Pawnee County
  • Roff Public Schools, Pontotoc County
  • Antlers Public Schools, Pushmataha County

Oklahoma had moved away from the 180-day school calendar requirement , allowing local boards of education the option to meet 1,080 hours instead, which several schools took to transition into 4-day school weeks.

In 2021 however, a 165-day minimum was added for schools. While schools can still do 4-day work weeks, this would extend the school year. Schools had to apply to the State Board of Education for a formal waiver to opt out of that requirement.

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Derrick Meador Jennings Super, 4 day week for 8 years--- adding 8 days

“Attendance has improved, morale has increased,” Derrick Meador, Jennings Superintendent said. “Students and teachers come to school on Monday even more refreshed and enthusiastic than what they were before”

Meador, who says his district has done a 4-day week for eight years, says the biggest plus is teacher retention.

“Its the single best tool to obtain the quality teachers that we have,” added Meador, saying he worries adding eight more school days will take away from the incentive of the schedule.

“When we’ve gone through a pandemic we have students who regardless of districts... we have students who have been effected by COVID-19 who have had learning loss...” board member Estela Hernandez said. “For me to get to a point to approve less than 165 days... its hard for me to get there because our students need more not less.”

“Keeping these high quality teachers is key to our success,” Battiest Superintendent Tommy Turner, argued. “We can go a few less days and have high quality teachers or I can have a warm body and go a few more days.”

You can watch the full discussion here, the waiver discussion starts around 2:04.

A majority of schools in the U.S. require closer to 180 school days a year.