CHARLESTON (AP) — The West Virginia Board of Education has approved a waiver process aimed at giving county school systems flexibility in making up instructional days cancelled because of weather.

The policy approved Wednesday will allow counties to seek waivers to use bank time to meet the equivalent of that state-required 180 instructional days, instead of providing instruction on 180 separate days. Bank time is minutes that counties can accrue each day by exceeding the minimum state-required classroom time.

Previously, bank time could only be used to make up time missed for faculty senate meetings, early dismissals and school delays.

A bill granting similar exemptions is pending in the Legislature. The policy would go into effect if lawmakers don't pass the bill before the session ends on Saturday.

Board member Wayne Linger cast the lone vote against the policy.

"Are we backing down from 180 days, is that what we're doing?" Linger asked.

Board member Lloyd Jackson replied, "Kind of feels like we're doing that, doesn't it?"

State Schools Superintendent Michael Martirano said counties will still be expected to meet the 180-day requirement.

"180 days is 180 days," Martirano said. "I don't want people to think because they have accrued time or can get a waiver they can get around that."

The number of school days cancelled this year ranges from at least seven in all counties to 18 in Barbour and Calhoun counties, preliminary figures show.

Several counties have extended their school years into June to make up lost days, while others have canceled spring break.

Maritirano said school days can be added up to the end of the fiscal year on June 30. But doing so could disrupt vacations and other family time.

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