Superintendent addresses Saturday school concerns

Saturday school make up day

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – The superintendent of Virginia Beach Schools is addressing feedback over her decision to hold snow makeup days on three Saturdays, the first of which was this past weekend.

Dr. Sheila Magula says she visited nine schools Saturday and spoke to students and staff. In a letter to parents and employees, she wrote, “As this school week begins and we move forward with teaching and learning, I’d like to pause for just a moment and thank our students, employees, parents and community members for their support of and dedication to this school division. Regardless of where you stand on the issue of holding school on Saturdays to make up lost instructional time, I’m pleased that the majority of those who have contacted me about the schedule have done so with sincere concern for our public education system.”

School board member Joel McDonald wants to scrap the remaining Saturday makeup days, which are scheduled for March 29 and April 26. He drafted a resolution he hopes to bring up at Tuesday night’s meeting. He says the district is on track to meet the 180 day requirement the state sets for the school year, without any additional makeup days. McDonald calls the Saturday sessions more disruptive than helpful.

Document: McDonald’s resolution

The Virginia Beach Education Association has also come out against the Saturday sessions.

In her letter, Dr. Magula addressed the concerns, stating, “There is no question that opening schools on Saturday posed challenges for all of us; however, the attendance data show that the majority of our students were present. I personally visited nine of our schools (elementary, middle and high), observed in classrooms and labs, and talked with students and staff. What I saw Saturday was not unlike what I’ve seen in previous visits to the schools. My executive leadership team confirmed the same.”

According to Virginia Beach Schools, the attendance for Sat. Feb. 15 are as follows:

  • Divisionwide: 77.14 percent
  • Elementary: 79.92 percent
  • Middle: 80.49 percent
  • High: 70.33 percent

In total, 53,092 students were in attendance Saturday and 15,736 were absent.

As a comparison, here is the attendance data for Friday, Feb. 14, a regularly scheduled school day:

  • Divisionwide: 96.84 percent
  • Elementary: 97.31 percent
  • Middle: 97.31 percent
  • High: 95.76 percent

Click here to see a school by school breakdown.

The school division hired 726 substitutes on Saturday as opposed to 751 substitutes on Friday. Of Saturday’s substitutes, 418 were teachers. A chart detailing the number of substitutes hired by job classification is available by clicking here.

Dr. Magula also responded to the social media posts that stated some students spent the day not doing school work. She wrote, “In a number of those situations, the information was exaggerated or not accurate.  Yet there were a few incidents that were true and they were and are being addressed appropriately with staff.”

10 On Your Side is closely following this developing story. We will have a crew at Tuesday night’s school board meeting and will let you know what comes out of that session.

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