Some things that should be easy turn out to be unnecessarily complicated. That’s what the WCPSS Board of Education is experiencing as it tries to set the traditional school calendar each year.
In 2011, the General Assembly passed a law that limited the traditional school calendar for all public school districts to open no earlier than the Monday closest to August 26 and close no later than the Friday closest to June 11. WCPSS has found that there are barely enough available days to fit 180 days of school. In fact, in 2016-17 there are only 184 eligible school days, according to Dr. Jim Martin, a school board member.
That leaves room for only four professional work days for teachers, no time for whole-day continuing education for teachers, known as professional development, and absolutely no room for inclement weather makeup days. Martin shared this information and the school board’s concerns with representatives and senators who serve Wake County in the General Assembly. He asked legislators that they consider working towards a way to amend the calendar law to allow for greater flexibility in setting the traditional calendar.
Later that day, the school board approved the 2017-2018 traditional calendar with a “caveat” in case WCPSS is allowed to expand the school year.
The calendar law does not affect the timing of year-round schools and modified calendar schools in WCPSS because they use a certain number of hours of instruction to meet the 180-day standard.
It was noted by school board members that charter schools are not subject to the traditional calendar law even when they mirror a local school district’s traditional calendar. They requested that the law be changed so that all school districts have the same traditional calendar standards.