HARRISBURG (March 19)—In a joint letter to the state’s Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, the Majority and Minority Chairmen of the Senate Education Committee objected to the department’s willingness to allow school districts to waive the 180-day requirement because of this winter’s heavy snowfall.

In the two-page letter, Sen. Jeff Piccola (R-15) and Sen. Andrew Dinniman (D-19) stated their belief that “it is inappropriate for the Department to waive the 180-day requirement for school districts….” due to this winter’s snow closures, deeming it “inconsistent with the Department’s efforts to improve academic performance in Pennsylvania.”

The senators urged the department to reconsider the eight waivers they have already granted, and deny the remaining requests. In a public hearing held Wednesday, department representative Mike Walsh said that more than 40 of Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts have requested a waiver of the 180-day instructional requirement. So far, the Department has granted the requests of eight school districts: Brownsville Area, Canon-McMillan, Cornell, Deer Lakes, East Allegheny, Elizabeth Forward, Penn Trafford and Philadelphia –the largest school district.

Dinniman and Piccola also announced that they plan to introduce legislation that would clarify and strengthen the school code’s requirement of a 180-day school year.

In their letter, the senators maintained that waivers should be granted in only the “most extreme circumstances,” which this winter’s snowstorms do not represent. They noted that school districts can and should add instructional days to their calendars by eliminating or shortening spring vacations and extending the school year in June to compensate for snow days.

“The decision to grant these waivers runs contrary to all of our efforts to improve academic performance and the quality of education in Pennsylvania. It is disappointing and needs to be reconsidered,” Dinniman said. “After all, most economically advanced nations have 200 days or more in their school year. I don’t see how we can compete with them, academically and economically, by continuing to shave days off the calendar.”

“It is crucial for state policymakers who emphasize the importance of education to walk the talk on this issue,” Dinniman added.

“The 180-day rule is a mandate, not an option, and it is there for a reason,” said Piccola. “We have made great strides in holding students and teachers accountable and raising the bar in education. Waiving the 180-day requirement is a step backward.”

“With many policymakers even calling for a longer school year, it is ill-advised to relax standards and undermine the academic rigor we are striving to attain.”

For more information, call Senator Dinniman’s office at 610-692-2112 or e-mail andy@pasenate.com

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» Click here to read the letter

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April 2014
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Category: GeneralMeeting with Legislative Prayer Caucus

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March 31, 2014

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March 31, 2014

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Category: GeneralHuman Trafficking Advocacy Day in the State Capitol

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April 1, 2014

Legislative Session in Harrisburg

Category: GeneralARC of Pennsylvania Legislative Reception

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April 1, 2014

Attending the Arc of Pennsylvania's Legislative Reception at the Harrisburg Hilton following the organization's advocacy & policy day.

ARC of Pennsylvania Legislative Reception

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Category: GeneralLegislative Session

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April 2, 2014

Legislative Session in Harrisburg

Category: GeneralPCN Call-In Program on Education

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April 2, 2014

Participating in PCN's Call-In Program on Education with Senator Folmer.

PCN Call-In Program on Education

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Category: GeneralSPSBA and PHEFA Meetings

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April 3, 2014

State Public School Building Authority and Pennsylvania Higher Education Facilities Authority meeting in Harrisburg.

SPSBA and PHEFA Meetings

Category: GeneralCCEDC Business Achievement Awards Dinner

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April 3, 2014

Honoring Oscar Lasko at the Chester County Economic Development Council Business Achievement Awards Dinner at the Phoenixville Foundry.

CCEDC Business Achievement Awards Dinner

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Category: GeneralCCIU Celebrate Children Dinner

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April 4, 2014

Giving the Keynote Speech at the Chester County Intermediate Unit's "Celebrate Children Dinner" at the Desmond. The even is part of the Week of the Young Child.

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Category: GeneralMeeting with Legislative Prayer Caucus

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April 7, 2014

Category: GeneralLegislative Session

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April 7, 2014

Legislative Session in Harrisburg

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Category: GeneralLegislative Session

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April 8, 2014

Legislative Session in Harrisburg

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Category: GeneralVFCC's 75th Anniversary

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April 9, 2014

Honoring Valley Forge Christian College on its 75th Anniversary

VFCC's 75th Anniversary

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April 9, 2014

Legislative Session in Harrisburg

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Category: GeneralConservation Committee Public Hearing on Pipelines

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April 10, 2014

Joint Legislative Air & Water Pollution & Conservation Committee Public Hearing on pipelines at the West Pikeland Township building. A luncheon with members of the mushroom industry will follow.

Conservation Committee Public Hearing on Pipelines

Category: GeneralPaoli Business and Professional Association Banquet

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April 10, 2014

Recognizing members of the Paoli Business and Professional Association at its banquet at the Desmond.

Paoli Business and Professional Association Banquet

Category: GeneralChester-Delaware County Farm Bureau Banquet

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April 10, 2014

Honoring members of the Chester-Delaware County Farm Bureau at its banquet at Goshen Fire Hall.

Chester-Delaware County Farm Bureau Banquet

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Category: GeneralThorndale-Downingtown Rotary Breakfast

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April 11, 2014

Attending Thorndale-Downingtown Rotary Breakfast at Green Street Grille.

Thorndale-Downingtown Rotary Breakfast

Category: GeneralPASA Board Meeting

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April 11, 2014

Attending the meeting of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators in Harrisburg.

PASA Board Meeting

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Category: GeneralVisit to Walnut Street Labs

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April 15, 2014

Visiting and speaking at Walnut Street Labs, a startup incubator in West Chester.

Visit to Walnut Street Labs

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Category: GeneralGood Friday (State Offices Closed)

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April 18, 2014N/A

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Category: GeneralAKA Emerging Young Leader's Group

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April 19, 2014

Speaking to Alpha Kappa Akpha's Emerging Young Leaders Group at St. Paul's Baptist Church.

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Category: GeneralCCIU Legislative Meeting

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April 24, 2014

Attending the Chester County Intermediate Unit's Legislative Meeting on the Keystone Exams.

CCIU Legislative Meeting

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Category: GeneralArbor Day Celebration at Hoopes Park

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April 25, 2014

Speaking at the New Century Club's 25th Annual Arbor Day Celebration.

Category: GeneralMeeting with Representatives from AICUP

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April 25, 2014

Lunch meeting with representatives from the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania at Immaculata University.

Meeting with Representatives from AICUP

Category: GeneralMeeting with MCHCCC

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April 25, 2014

Meeting with members of the Maternal and Child Health Consortium of Chester County during “Family Center Network Week.”

Meeting with MCHCCC

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Category: GeneralSafe Harbor Spring Celebration

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April 26, 2014

Attending the Safe Harbor Spring Celebration at Whitford Country Club.

Safe Harbor Spring Celebration

Category: GeneralDowningtown Alumni Association Banquet

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Category: GeneralEarth Day Movie Screening at the Colonial Theater

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April 27, 2014

Speaking at a screening of "Fierce Green Fire" at the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville.

Earth Day Movie Screening at the Colonial Theater

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Category: GeneralHumane Lobby Day in Harrisburg

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April 28, 2014

Category: GeneralMeeting with Legislative Prayer Caucus

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April 28, 2014

Category: GeneralLegislative Session

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April 28, 2014

Legislative Session in Harrisburg

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Category: GeneralPA Bio Breakfast and Advocacy Day

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April 29, 2014

Attending PA Bio Breakfast and Advocacy Day in Harrisburg.

PA Bio Breakfast and Advocacy Day

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April 29, 2014

Legislative Session in Harrisburg

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Category: GeneralLegislative Session

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April 30, 2014

Legislative Session in Harrisburg

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