Elkin considering school calendars

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

Proposed calendars for the 2018-19 school year have been introduced to the Elkin City Schools Board of Education, following input from the system’s staff and faculty members.

“In November, there were two calendars presented to the core team,” said Allison Moxley, human resources director, as she introduced the information topic at the school board’s Dec. 4 meeting.

On Nov. 16, a survey was sent to the school employees along with the two calendars and the state’s school calendar law. The difference in the two calendars, which propose the first day of school as Aug. 27, 2018, includes the last day of school in Calendar 1 to be June 6, 2019, and the last day of school for Calendar 2 being June 7, 2019. Also, the two calendars have a couple of required workdays being on different dates.

Seventy-four people completed the survey on the calendars, Moxley said. The majority of the surveys favored Calendar 1, which includes a required workday on Oct. 29 that is not in the second calendar option.

“I did receive some comments,” Moxley said. “One of those was, ‘Easter break would be more helpful to some families during Holy Week and not the week after Easter. Some people have several church services to attend or participate in.’

“‘We need a work day at the end of first quarter,’ which we do in the first calendar but we didn’t in the second calendar,” Moxley said of another staff comment.

Another staff member commented with the wish that the optional workday scheduled on Dec. 20, 2018, could instead be on Jan. 2, 2019.

“‘Let’s try professional development days on Monday instead of Friday and get rid of early dismissals,’” Moxley said another person suggested.

“‘I understand we have to fit in a certain number of instructional days between August and June, however as a teacher I do not need five or six workdays at the end of the year after my grading is complete. I need those scattered throughout the year. I would appreciate any effort to spread those out,’” said another staff member.

School officials commented on the suggestion to move the workdays into the school year rather than at the end, that they aren’t allowed to have classes beyond June 11, and if the days are mixed in, then they may not be able to used for inclement weather make-up days. That also would lengthen the school instructional year for students and staff so that the school year would have to go later into June even if there are no snow days to make up.

“What they’re wanting, I understand, is more workdays within the school year, the problem is that increases your start and end dates,” said Elkin High School Principal Joel Hoyle.

The state requires school systems to have at least 1,025 instructional hours for students or 180 days, noted school leaders.

In both of the proposed calendars, first semester exams would be held the week of Jan. 14, 2019.

Another teacher said some parents have asked why the Elkin schedule seems to differ from surrounding school systems, because they would like to see the students out by Memorial Day. “‘The students are done by then anyway,’” Moxley said the comment noted.

When asked by board member Dr. Jane Riley about the spring break on the calendars, Moxley said traditionally the school system has always scheduled the break beginning Good Friday and running through the week after Easter.

In 2019, Easter isn’t until April 21, which Riley noted was “pretty late” and said it might work better to move the break to the week leading up to Easter instead to break up the semester. She said the additional day of break could include Easter Monday, if it was moved to the week before Easter.

Superintendent Dr. Myra Cox suggested polling the staff on which of those two weeks they would prefer, between being on break April 15-19 and 22, or April 19 and 22-26.

The school board members agreed they would like to hear the results of a poll on the spring break options.

No decision was made on the proposed calendars during the December school board meeting.

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

By Wendy Byerly Wood