Elkin City Schools approve make-up days and 2016-17 school year calendar

By Wendy Byerly Wood - wbyerly-wood@civitasmedia.com

Make-up days for the most recent inclement weather as well as the 2016-17 school year calendar were approved Monday night during the Elkin City Schools Board of Education meeting.

Since the local school system designs its school year by number of hours rather than number of days, it was able to “forgive” six hours of instruction missed on Feb. 15 due to inclement weather.

To make up for the students missing Feb. 16, two days which originally were designated as early dismissals will now be full length school days — March 24 and April 14.

Another change made for teachers in the 2015-16 school year is to make June 13 a required teacher workday, and June 14 and 15 will be optional teacher workdays, with the 15th the last day teachers will be at schools.

With this newly revised calendar, the school system still has 1,045 hours of instructional time planned, with the state requiring a minimum of 1,025 hours.

The changes to the 2015-16 calendar unanimously approved following a motion from board member Frank Beals and a second from board member James Freeman.

In setting the school calendar for 2016-17, there were some questions and reservations about having to start so late in August, with the start date for students being Aug. 29.

Due to the state legislators setting a law more than a decade ago, the only legal way to start school earlier is to request a waiver or permission. Elkin City Schools administrators have sent a letter requesting permission to start a week earlier, noting the difficulty in high school students’ schedules in January when second semester at the community college and some online courses begins before exams are held for high school’s first semester. No response to the request had been received as of Monday night.

The proposed 2016-17 school calendar includes 178 days and 1,044 hours of instruction, reported Allison Moxley, human resources director for the system, as she presented it to the school board.

In next year’s calendar, the first semester will end Jan. 13, 2017, with second semester beginning Jan. 18. The final day of classes would be June 9, 2017.

Beals was concerned about having exams so late in January and starting second semester so late. He proposed doing as two other North Carolina school systems have done, and go ahead and approve a calendar starting a week early even without permission from the state.

“I would love to see us break state rules and just start a week early,” he told the other school board members. “There have been two other systems that have done it without any consequences.”

Despite Beals’ opinion, board member Dr. Jane Riley moved to approve the calendar as it was presented, with a start date of Aug. 29. The motion was seconded by Freeman.

“Is there a date when this needs to be done?” Beals asked the staff, wanting to know if the vote could be held off until after a response from the state was received.

Superintendent Dr. Randy Bledsoe said parents already are calling to ask about the next year’s calendar so they can make vacation plans, and Elkin Elementary School Principal Pam Colbert said the earlier it is approved the easier it is to secure instructors for professional development days.

“If we approve it and then get a letter back, can we go back and change it?” Beals asked in response, getting the answer that yes, a revised calendar can be voted on at a later time.

“I think if we got a letter saying we can start early, parents won’t mind that,” said Bledsoe. “Many school systems around us have already adopted their calendars.”

“I as a board member would like to start earlier. I disagree with the law, but they make the law and we need to support that,” said Freeman.

When the vote was taken it was four in favor of approving the calendar, and Beals voting no.

The approved 2016-17 calendar includes, inclement weather make-up days on Saturdays if they are needed in the first semester, and on Jan. 17, Feb. 10, May 29 and Saturdays in the second semester.

Required teacher workdays will be Aug. 22-25; Oct. 31; Jan. 17; Feb. 10; and June 12. Optional teacher workdays will be Aug. 26; Jan. 2; and June 13-16.

Early dismissal days will be Sept. 22; Oct. 28; Nov. 10; Dec. 20; Feb. 9; March 9; May 12; and June 9.

Holidays are Sept. 5; Nov. 11; Nov. 24-25; Dec. 23; Dec. 26-27; Jan. 16; April 14 and 17; and May 29.

Annual leave days, which no students are in class, are Nov. 23; Dec. 21-22; Dec. 28-30; and April 18-21.

Professional development days, which no students are in class, are Sept. 23 and March 10.

Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.

By Wendy Byerly Wood


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