- Associated Press - Monday, January 27, 2014

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District will appeal to Education Commissioner Mike Hanley for a waiver from the state law requiring schools to be open for at least 180 days.

Fairbanks schools Friday closed for a fourth day this school year. To meet the 180-day requirement, students would have to return for one day of school after the three-day Memorial Day weekend, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (https://bit.ly/M5ol4C) reported.

“It’s really not productive to have students coming back after a holiday or to have finals split from one week to the next week,” said school board President Heidi Haas said.

Fairbanks schools closed for three days in November during an ice storm and prolonged power outage. School closed again Friday because of roads made hazardous by freezing rain.

The school district includes three possible makeup days at the end of the school calendar.

Haas said the district will request a waiver from Hanley for one of the days schools closed in November instead of the most recent closure. The November storms were declared a state and national disaster.

The law gives the education commissioner discretion to waive the 180-day limit by declaring an emergency closure day for a district “because of conditions posing a threat to the health or safety of student.”

Education Department spokesman Eric Fry said the commissioner rarely grants waivers.

“Almost always what we do is ask the district to make up the time,” Fry said.

The commissioner has granted waivers when natural disasters have occurred at the end of the school year, Fry said. With so much time left in the semester, the department could ask the district to add one day somewhere other than the end of the school year, such as a Saturday or a professional development day, Fry said.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com


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