A bill that would have placed new obstacles in the way of local boards of education attempting to ensure all West Virginia students receive the state-mandated 180 days a year of instruction has been vetoed by Gov. Joe Manchin. He was right to reject the measure.
A law providing county school boards more flexibility in setting school calendars already is in place. It was enacted in an attempt to help counties cope with "snow days" and other interruptions. Particularly this winter, some counties were forced to cancel classes many times. That will make it difficult, if not impossible, for them to meet the 180-day mandate.
One means of helping them is included in the school calendar bill. It allows districts to begin classes earlier and end them later than normally allowed under the law. In normal circumstances, classes can begin no earlier than Aug. 26 each year and must end no later than June 8.
After passing that bill, legislators apparently came under pressure from school employee groups who wanted more influence in setting schedules. The result was a bill requiring a cumbersome process by which counties would have had to establish special committees, including school employees, to recommend schedules. Employee groups then would have been required to vote on the options.
As Manchin pointed out, the whole idea behind the initial school calendar bill was to give districts more flexibility. The vetoed measure would have taken away much of it.
Again, Manchin was right to reject the bill. It would have been a step backward - and West Virginia cannot afford that.