Flexible calendar proposed for Elkin schools

By Wendy Byerly Wood - wbyerly-wood@elkintribune.com
Lisa Pendry, director of student information, attendance and accounting for Elkin City Schools, shares facts about school attendance with school board members Monday. - Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

Elkin school officials are considering going with a flexible year-round calendar for the 2019-20 school year, following suit with other school systems in the region and better aligning it with the Surry Community College calendar. Input on the proposed calendar can be made on the system’s website.

A number of calendar proponents remain unchanged in the proposed calendar, such as the 179 school days, 215 teacher working days, the same number of required holidays and annual leave days and work days.

Changes in the proposed calendar would an earlier first day of school, scheduled for Aug. 7 rather than Aug. 26 of the existing calendar’s format; just more than two weeks for the Christmas holiday break; a spring break in March to align with SCC’s spring break; and an extended weekend for Easter, having Good Friday and Easter Monday off.

Allison Moxley-White, human resources director, explained other school systems in the area already have adopted or are considering similar flexible calendars, including Surry County Schools, Mount Airy City Schools and Iredell/Statesville.

“This calendar is considered a flexible calendar and does not follow the traditional year-round format,” she said. “A flexible year-round calendar that includes enriched learning opportunities in June and July, and requires local board action but no further approval at the state level.”

Moxley-White said, “Some of the main goals for implementing the flexible calendar allow the city schools and Surry Community College calendars to more closely align to benefit dually-enrolled students. It creates additional calendar flexibility for innovation in our district. We are able to finish high school exams prior to the Christmas break, continue to provide a long weekend at Easter while matching the SCC calendar spring break.”

Also, the calendar would allow for extended learning opportunities for students, Moxley-White explained. “The enriched learning communities highlighted on the flexible calendar, which would be June and July, denotes the work we already do with the students and allows us to expand required, free and paid camps available to students over the summer months. All students are not required to attend school during these months.”

She also said no staff is required to work during the enriched learning months, but that interested, certified teachers will serve as facilitators during the summer camps.

“With the current calendar, students play one to two football games prior to the start of school and students being on campus. With this proposed 2019-20 calendar, this would allow students to be on campus and school to be in session for all athletic events,” she said.

“If the [school board] adopts the flexible school calendar, the summer of 2019 will be shorter for students and staff, but subsequent summers will be approximately the same length as provided in the current calendar,” Moxley-White said, noting 2019 summer still would be seven weeks off.

The 2019-20 school year would end May 22 in the proposed calendar unless weather make-up days need to be utilized after that date.

Calendar highlights include teachers return to school July 31 as an option teacher work day; first day of class on Aug. 7; holiday Sept. 2 and professional development (no class) Sept. 3; early dismissal Oct. 10 and required work day Oct. 22; early dismissal Nov. 8 and holiday Nov. 11; no school Nov. 27-29; early dismissal Dec. 20 and no classes Dec. 23-27, Dec. 30-Jan. 3, required work day Jan. 6; start second semester Jan. 7; holiday Jan. 20; early dismissal Jan. 31; no school Feb. 14; professional development Feb. 28; spring break March 9-13; professional development March 27; holiday April 10 and no school April 13; early dismissal May 1; early dismissal on last day May 22.

From now until Oct. 19, comments about the proposed calendar from staff, parents and other interested parties are being accepted on the Elkin City Schools’ website, elkincityschools.org.

Moxley-White will present the results of the comments during the school board’s Oct. 22 meeting, so it can consider the proposal.

School attendance focus

Also, during Mondays’ meeting, Lisa Pendry, director of student information, attendance and accounting, announced a new competition between Elkin’s three schools.

Each month, the school which has the highest student attendance rate for the month will be awarded a trophy, which will be presented to one of the winning school’s students selected by the principal during the school board meeting. The trophy will rotate between the schools each month, depending on the winner.

Pendry shared information in a press release from the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation with the school board. That release noted, she said, “64,000 of North Carolina students were chronically absent from school in the 2015-16 year, and that chronic absence is shown to affect reading proficiency.

“One of the things I’m working with is attendance, and we want to really encourage our youngest students to attend. Elkin City Schools has really good attendance. We are over 95 percent, but it doesn’t address our chronic absenteeism,” Pendry said.

“With the state, they surveyed different districts, and there were over 11 percent of students in the early grades with absenteeism,” she said. “When I look at our records, we are actually in line with that. We have a few kids with a lot of absences, is almost 10 percent of our kindergarten class, so there is definitely an impact with that and the ability to read by third grade.”

She said she anticipates the elementary school to win the trophy for student attendance each month, because in looking at past numbers, the middle and high school tend to have lower monthly rates.

“Just want to get that message out to all our kids, K-12, on how important attendance is,” Pendry said.

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

Lisa Pendry, director of student information, attendance and accounting for Elkin City Schools, shares facts about school attendance with school board members Monday.
https://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_attendance_formatted.jpgLisa Pendry, director of student information, attendance and accounting for Elkin City Schools, shares facts about school attendance with school board members Monday. Wendy Byerly Wood | The Tribune

By Wendy Byerly Wood