Families, religious groups react to VB Schools Saturday make-up days

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Many Virginia Beach parents are angry because of the school district’s decision to make up snow days on three Saturdays: February 15, March 29, and April 26.

Parent Lisa Hartman has two students in the school system. She spent Friday morning trying to get answers from city leaders.

“I’ve contacted all 11 city council members this morning. I have also emailed all of the school board members,” Hartman said. “I’m confused as to why we continue to pursue the additional three days when we’re already meeting the requirements for the state with the days and the hours.”

In a statement, Superintendent Dr. Sheila Magula said meeting state requirements is difficult, even with three additional days in the district’s calendar. She said the extra 15 minutes added to the high school day this year was to give students a 30-minute lunch.

“To address the state mandate of 140 clock hours of instruction, we need to make up lost instructional time,” Magula said.

Hartman said one of the Saturday make-up days is the same day as the Virginia Beach Relay for Life.

“It absolutely affects us because we participate in the Relay For Life events around the area because my 8th grader is a recent cancer survivor,” she said. “He’s been cancer free for one year and we don’t miss those.”

Rabbi Israel Zoberman of Beth Chaverim said he had asked school leaders to reconsider the decision.

“Truly, I’m deeply concerned that this is something that has to be rectified somehow,” he said. “I would like to believe that someone overlooked the fact that on Saturday Jews meet at worship. We also have pre-arranged special events such as Bar Mitzvahs and Bat Mitzvahs.”

Thousands of parents commented on the 10 On Your Side Facebook page Friday. Stephanie Thomas wrote, ” I attended Virginia Beach Public Schools and back in 1996 we had to make up a snow day on a Saturday. My mom made me go, and I’m still alive!”

Superintendent, Dr. Sheila Magula, refused to talk to 10 On Your Side on camera, but released the following statement: “There is never a day that is convenient for all of our students, staff and families. This is especially true here, considering the number of families Virginia Beach City Public Schools serves and the scope of our student activities programs.”

Jerry Frostick of J&A Racing was planning to hold the Virginia Is For Lovers 14K race next Saturday. He said the school district did not give enough notice.

“We close Dam Neck Road and it’s right at that time. Seventy-five percent of our volunteers are high school that we make donations to help them come out,” Frostick said. “All the runners that are traveling from out of town and the locals that have trained for it,  have paid for it. What are we gonna do?”

Frostick decided to move the event to Sunday, February 16, but said it was a difficult decision: “Some people have plans on Sunday, and we recognize that, so we’re going to let them defer to next year without any charge.”

The Fundango Festival, which focuses on education for child sexual abuse, was scheduled for March 29. Organizers said they will reschedule for another day in June.

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