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March 8, 2010

Posted by allthingshavelock in Havelock Schools.
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Changes considered for school calendar law

March 07, 2010 4:18 PM
By Barry Smith
Freedom News Service

The struggle by many North Carolina school systems to make up snow days has prompted a renewed effort to change or do away with the state’s 6-year-old school calendar law.

The law, approved by the General Assembly in 2004, was supported by a coalition of parents, teachers and members of the state’s tourism industry as a way of guaranteeing opportunities for families to take vacations well into August.

Dubbed the “Save our Summers” law, it laid out bookends for the school calendar. School could not begin before Aug. 25 nor end after June 10. Year-round schools, such as Tucker Creek Middle and Havelock and Arthur Edwards elementary schools in Havelock, were exempt, as were school systems that could demonstrate a need for greater flexibility because of inclement weather.

Connie Wilson, who in 2004 was a Republican state representative who sponsored the law, is now a lobbyist representing the state travel industry. She said that some state leaders are working on consensus legislation that would give school systems a bit of leeway in fulfilling their school calendar this year.

Current law requires school systems to have 180 instructional days and provide at least 1,000 hours of instruction for students. Wilson said the proposal that legislators and officials are considering would allow for school systems to have fewer than 180 days if they provide at least 1,000 hours of instruction.

“It’s not like we are without precedent,” said Wilson, noting that lawmakers approved a similar one-time plan a decade ago following Hurricane Floyd, which caused schools to close for days in September of 1999.

“That may be an appropriate fix for this year,” said Sheri Strickland, president of the N.C. Association of Educators.

The association, which supported the 2004 law, is now calling for changes in the law to allow for more local flexibility.

“Now that we have lived with it for six years, we’re recognizing that it is not working for our locals,” Strickland said.

Strickland said that the NCAE hopes changes in the law will come about to give school systems more calendar flexibility. She said changes to allow school systems to start earlier, end later or do away with the law altogether and leave the school calendar entirely up to local school boards are among the proposals that could get NCAE support.

“Ultimately, we would like to see school systems design a calendar that works for them as long as they’re doing it with the educators and the community,” Strickland said.

Before the law, classes in Craven County public schools began in the first week of August and dismissed for the year right before Memorial Day at the end of May.

In that calendar, students in high school were able to take their end-of-course exams for the fall semester before the two-week Christmas break. With the current law, those exams are given generally about 2 1/2 weeks after students return from their two-week Christmas break.

In Craven County, fall semester EOC test scores were 10 percentage points higher than the previous year, and Wilson said that overall across the state, the exam schedule has not been a huge issue.

“Students are performing much better on tests than they did in 2004,” Wilson said. “I think the facts speak for themselves.”

In response to the change in position by the NCAE, Wilson said that she knows of teachers who like starting school at the later August date. She pointed out that NCAE supported a provision in the 2004 law that sliced five teacher workdays from the school calendar without teachers losing any pay.

“They took their money and ran,” Wilson said.

Strickland said that teachers are still getting their staff development days. They’re just not formally placed into the school calendar the way they were before.

“The staff development is happening,” Strickland said. “It’s happening in different ways.”

August 11, 2009

Posted by allthingshavelock in Havelock Schools.
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Havelock School Calendar