Flexible school calendar jokes aside, the West Virginia Board of Education is not taking this summer off by any means.
Members have a long list of goals, challenges and rule changes to implement, some of which must be in place by the time school starts this fall.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's education agenda set forth six challenges for the board to tackle, and members have been up for the challenge.
Those items include: certifying teacher education programs and direct professional development to support reading by the end of third grade; reviewing the governance structure of each county board of education; creating efficiencies with the Regional Education Service Agencies, or RESAs, for decentralized delivery of professional development; requiring every career center in West Virginia to have at least one career pathway that meets Southern Regional Education Board standards; implementing Project 24, which uses technology to personalize and enhance the education of every student; and reducing paperwork for educators in county offices and in schools by simplifying planning.
School Board President Wade Linger joked that the board is "like the dog that chases the car and then he catches it," and said many of the initiatives are "top priority."
He said the biggest change parents will see in the next school year is not the flexible school calendar allowed by the recent education reform measure that passed the full Legislature.
"We're not going to do the flexible calendars this year because there's a lot that has to go into that, too," Linger said. "Everybody agreed we want to get to this, we want to do it, but we probably should take a year and make sure everybody understands it's coming.
"We're going to have these public meetings in every county and let the people decide how they want this to work, rather than springing it on people and messing with their lives and so forth."
Linger said the education reform bill completely changed the way teachers will be hired, so now teachers and schools have a say in who is brought into their schools.
"So we're hurriedly drafting the rules about how that will work, and of course … we have to seek input from the teacher groups, from the superintendents, from the principals and all the people involved in it to be sure we have buy-in from all the people who are going to have to live with this," he said. "And we're coming into hiring system, so we have to get that stuff done, get it approved by the board and get people trained on it really quickly.
"In terms of government, and in terms of the education business, doing something this big within a couple of months is unheard of, so we're peddling as fast as we can on that."