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The Washington State Board of Education has denied a request by Seattle Public Schools to shorten its 2013-14 school calendar by three days.

Seattle schools had applied for three additional waiver days, which would have allowed the district to by-pass the state requirement that it provide 180 days of education to students.

The district had hoped to use the waiver days for teacher professional development -- days when the teachers come to school, but students don t. Teachers and administrators say the time is vital for developing curriculum and discussing teaching plans for individual students.

Seattle s school calendar had been in flux while the district awaited the board s ruling. With the state board's decision, one of two options for the new school year calendar will take effect. That calendar shows school starting on September 4 (view the full calendar here).

Following KING 5 s School s Out investigations into the prevalence of waiver days and half-days in most school districts, State School Superintendent Randy Dorn called on schools to devote more time to in-class instruction.

The State Board of Education also began denying waiver requests from districts. In addition to Seattle, the board rejected waiver requests from Fife School District and Columbia School District in Walla Walla.

Below, read the SPSemail sent on Thursday:

Dear Seattle Public Schools community:

We received word last week that the Washington State Board of Education has denied our request to waive the 180-school-day requirement to accommodate three professional development days in our upcoming 2013-14 academic calendar.

I wanted to let you know what this means, and what will happen next.

As you may recall, two calendars were approved by the Seattle School Board at its July 3rd meeting to accommodate pending state board action Option A, with the professional development days included, and Option B, without. Since the state board voted not to approve the waiver, we will now follow the Option B calendar. That calendar shows three student instructional days instead of three professional development days. The already-scheduled early release days will remain in place.

Here is the link to the Option B calendar.

We are now working with our labor partners, as part of ongoing contract negotiations, to determine when professional development will take place during the upcoming school year. We know that having a final calendar is important to you, so that you can schedule activities and events throughout the school year. We will communicate more information to families and staff as soon as it is available.

Here s a reminder of key dates for next year s school calendar:

* First day of school: Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013
* Winter break: two weeks, from Dec. 23, 2013, to Jan. 3, 2014
* Mid-winter break: Feb. 17-21, 2014, including the Presidents Day holiday
* Spring break: April 14-18, 2014
* Last day of school: June 19, 2014

The calendar also builds in four snow make-up days, including Jan. 31, 2014, May 23, 2014, and the two days after the last day of school, Friday June 20 and Monday, June 23. It s important that staff and families plan for students to potentially be in school during these days, and to note that the last day of school could be Monday, June 23, 2014 (if snow days are used).

Later this summer, we will be publishing and distributing our wall calendar, which will include the final dates for you to reference throughout the school year.

Sincerely,

Michael Tolley
Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning

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