Mount Airy City Schools will be displaying a proposed academic calendar soon on its web page.
This week’s winter weather, and an incoming delegation from China, pushed back a few projects for the school system. Still, school officials want parents to see the calendar so that they can give feedback before details are finalized.
The requirements on summer break left “very little wiggle room” for the whole school year, according to Dr. Greg Little, MACS superintendent. If 2016-17 has a difficult winter, it would be a challenge to make up for that lost time.
Effective July 2013, Session Law 2012-145 requires: “Start date no earlier than the Monday closest to August 26 and end date no later than the Friday closest to June 11 (unless a weather-related calendar waiver has been approved).”
Other parts of the state law require:
• Must have a minimum of 185 days OR 1,025 hours of instruction.
• Must have at least nine (9) teacher workdays.
• Local Boards shall designate two (2) workdays on which teachers may take accumulated vacation leave.
To meet the first part, city schools will reopen on Aug. 29 and close on June 9.
With graduation set for June 10, that puts a strain on the high school teachers to get grades done immediately, noted Little.
With the start and end dates set, Little said he and his staff started working on putting in the needed teacher workdays. When they were done, the staff members found they only had 178 days of classes, which is seven under the minimum.
Little said the staff left a week for spring break because parents have stated that this is important to them.
However, if bad weather cancels school, the teacher workdays might have to be converted to regular school days, and the Memorial Day holiday could be used on May 29.
Right now, Good Friday is an optional teacher workday. However, Little said that more than likely the teachers will lose that if there is any sort of bad weather.
In order to get in the required days for faculty, the teachers will have to attend school for three days after graduation as “staff development days.”
The calendar still includes a day off on Oct. 14. That is the start of the Autumn Leaves Festival, which brings a great deal of traffic to public streets and would interfere with bus routes, and vice versa.
In each of the past two years, Mount Airy has missed eight days to bad weather, noted Little. If that happens next year, the school system might not be able to make that time up.
From its partnership with Chinese educators, the school system has learned that Chinese students get significantly more class time than Americans, he noted. They go to school more days a year and might be at school until 8 or 9 p.m. Any days lost to bad weather is just less time to keep pace with the rest of the world.
“I hate that we are still having these kinds of discussions on an antiquated calendar system,” Little told the school board this week. The state law doesn’t make sense for scheduling and seems like it is more concerned with tourism than education.
The school system will provide a copy of the calendar to its parent advisory committee. Other parents will be able to view it through the school site once it is loaded at www.mtairy.k12.nc.us.
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