Rabbi upset about Saturday snow day make-ups in Virginia Beach

Posted at 7:21 PM, Feb 14, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-15 16:08:19-05

At a typical Bar Mitzvah at Beth Chaverim Synagogue, they expect around 100 people.

But that number will likely not be as high for tomorrow's celebration, as it marks the first Saturday snow day make-up in Virginia Beach.

"So much goes into preparing for this high moment in the life of our bar mitzvah," Rabbi Israel Zoberman told NewsChannel 3.

He's worried that not nearly as many people will show up to tomorrow's service, at one of his 13 year old member's coming of age ceremony.

All because students will be in school.

"I feel for the bar mitzvah boy I feel for his family. They were taken by surprise. It's not even like there was advance warning. It just happened so rapidly so I would like to believe some miscalculation took place.

Rabbi Zoberman told NewsChannel 3 he spoke directly with Superintendent Dr. Magula.

"I've been reassured by Dr Magula that those who were invited, Jews and non Jews, that they will be excused," he said.

But still, the Rabbi says it's not fair to the boy.

"It creates pressure on a person young and not so young about which way to choose and people should not be placed in a bond like that," he added.

And it's not only the bar mitzvah. He's upset all three make-up days were scheduled for Saturdays, the Jewish Sabbath.

"Even though we are a minority in Hampton Roads unlike New York or Chicago or northern VA where I don't think this would have happened to begin with," he said.

But it did, and now the Rabbi is just hopeful for the future.

"Hopefully we can even have one of those Saturdays still be changed and we will be ever grateful."

Trenace Riggs, President of the Virginia Beach Education Association, released the following statement:

Earlier, I released a statement in response to the scheduled Saturday makeup days where I expressed our acceptance. However, it's clear from the response of many of our members, that I should look deeper into the impact of closures due to inclement weather and makeup days on instructional time and employees in Virginia Beach

We've analyzed this, comparing days and time lost to state requirements. Having done so, it is clear that VBCPS needed only to make up 2 instructional days, one of which was made up on January 24th, to meet the state requirement for number of days attended.

Due to our extended instructional calendar, the school closures caused by inclement weather did not reduce our number of instructional hours to below state requirements. However, it did have an impact on seat time for high school credit courses, as Virginia Beach was already below the state requirement from day one due to the hybrid 4x4 schedule. This state requirement can be waived, as it has been already.

We know that the makeup day schedule for tomorrow, February 15th, will go forward, and will be the second day of the two required to meet the state requirement for number of instructional days.

Today, we're asking the School Board and Superintendent to do the following:

1. Cancel all remaining makeup days after February 15th for Virginia Beach City Public Schools. This includes the makeup day scheduled for March 28th, which may be used later in the case of additional inclement weather.

2. Hold all employees harmless for time lost from closures due to inclement weather. While appreciating the need to show that the district is using taxpayer funds wisely, VBCPS must also treat their employees professionally and fairly. Additional makeup days in the name of justifying spending, and nickel-and-diming staff to make up hours, is an assault to their dedication and professionalism and harms employee morale.

3. Waive the lost seat time for high school credit courses. While we recognize the value of instructional time, this was done to allow for the hybrid 4x4 schedule at our high schools, and it should be done in response to the lost time due to inclement weather.

4. Re-open discussion regarding the 2013-14 school calendar. The School Board and Superintendent need to recognize that the additional instructional days and time built into our 183-day schedule should be used flexibly in the case of inclement weather forcing the closure of schools. Having the goal of a 183-day instructional calendar is great, but this goal should not be preserved at the cost of the major disruptions caused by making up days on holidays or weekends. When needed, this flexibility in our calendar should be used first, then teacher workdays, then holidays, and then weekends as a last resort. In addition, when weekends are used, both Saturday and Sunday should be considered as to not show preference to any particular faith.

The VBEA does share in the mission of VBCPS to provide a quality education to all students, and I truly believe all our members are dedicated to this mission. However, VBCPS employees should be treated professionally and fairly at all times, and this includes understanding the damaging impact of the current makeup schedule has on employee moral and the impact employee moral has on the quality of education. Hopefully understanding this, we look for the School Board and Superintendent to take actions on our recommendations above.


Virginia Beach Schools to have make-up snow days on Saturdays