Interpretation's Date: May 22, 2003
by superintendent David Stewart
Section: V. Personnel
SubSection: A. Professional Personnel



May 22, 2003

Robert W. Minney, Counselor
East Fairmont Junior High School
1 Orion Lane
Fairmont, WV 26554

Dear Mr. Minney:

I am in receipt of your request for a Superintendent's Interpretation, dated May 15, 2003, regarding use of planning periods. Specifically, you ask whether teachers can request that planning periods be scheduled so that they have the opportunity "to take coaching jobs at other schools, to run personal errands, to go home to feed animals/family, or to take personal classes at college."

West Virginia Code 18A-4-14(2) provides that:

"Every teacher who is regularly employed for a period of time more than one-half the class periods of the regular school day shall be provided at least one planning period within each school instructional day to be used to complete necessary preparations for the instruction of pupils. Such planning period shall be the length of the usual class period in the school to which such teacher is assigned, and shall be not less than thirty minutes. No teacher shall be assigned any responsibilities during this period, and no county shall increase the number of hours to be worked by a teacher as a result of such teacher being granted a planning period subsequent to the adoption of this section (March 13, 1982)."

According to the language of this statute, the planning period is part of the "instructional day." The "instructional day" is defined by West Virginia Board of Education Policy 2510, Assuring the Quality of Education: Regulations for Education Programs, as "[t]ime allocated within the school day for the teaching and mastery of content standards and objectives." Code 18A-4-14(2) further clarifies that the purpose of the planning period is to complete necessary preparations for the instruction of pupils.
Thus, it is clear that the planning period is part of the instructional day during which a teacher is compensated for being actively engaged in preparation activities which are necessary to effectively teach the prescribed content standards and objectives to students.

While the specific methods by which this preparation is to be completed are not set forth in law or policy, it is certain that they do not include coaching at other schools, running personal errands, going home to feed animals and family members, or taking college classes.

Hoping that I have been of service, I am


David Stewart
State Superintendent of Schools


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