Dr. Chalstrom's blog.
In the past, school calendars were based on providing 180 days of instruction each year. During the 2013 Legislature, the law regarding school calendars were changed to allow districts to count instructional hours as opposed to days. Under the new legislation, school districts must provide a minimum of 1080 hours of instruction. Instruction does not include lunch. Presently, the average school day is 6.5 hours which means the Cherokee CSD provides 1170 hours of instruction in a school year, exceeding the state minimum by 90 hours. However, if the district adopts a calendar based on hours, early release for professional development does not count towards instructional hours.
A quirk in the new calendar law also makes it difficult for districts who adopt a calendar based on days to have a late start or early release due to weather. Example: if a district bases its calendar on days and has to dismiss early due to adverse weather, it does not meet the definition of a day by law. In the past, districts were allowed to count an instructional day if school was late or dismissed early- in 2014-15 this practice will end. If a school adopts a calendar based on "hours" it can dismiss early or start late- as long as 1080 hours are met in a year, the district has this flexibility.
I hope this issue is clear as mud! Here is a link to the calendar rules at the Iowa DE: https://www.educateiowa.gov/sites/files/ed/documents/2013-11-04InstructionalHoursVsDaysGuidance.pdf
This article was re-posted from Dr. Chalstrom's blog