Wake County schools develop new guidelines for weather makeup days

khui@newsobserver.comMay 6, 2014 

  • Board approves grading policy, bell schedules

    In other action Tuesday:

    • The school board approved a revised grading policy that says that schools must develop a plan to help students who are at risk of failing. It falls short of a ban on issuing zero as a grade, a policy for which several speakers advocated Tuesday.

    Administrators will report back Thursday on how schools will implement the new “grade recovery plan.”

    • The school board adopted the bell schedules for the 2014-15 school year that set the opening and dismissal times for each school. Only five schools will see changes from this school year. Go to http://bit.ly/1o3cVik to view the schedules.

— When Mother Nature hammers the area again and forces schools to close, Wake County school leaders hope new guidelines on makeup days will make it easier for community members to plan their time off.

Some families were left in confusion as Wake announced makeup days and then changed them in response to the substantial number of days on which schools were closed this year. But new weather makeup guidelines for the 2014-15 school year would lay out how administrators will take steps such as extending the end of the school year and cutting into spring break only after exhausting other options.

“The intent of the (calendar) committee was that we not use vacation days, but it is probably not appropriate to take it off the table,” Cathy Moore, deputy superintendent for school performance, told school board members Tuesday.

Under the guidelines, makeup days would be determined for traditional-calendar schools in this order:

• Using two to three teacher workdays as makeup days.

• Converting some or all of the early-release days, when students are sent home 2-1/2 hours early, into normal days.

• Using the three extra days’ worth of instructional hours that each school has above the state’s minimum of 1,025 hours of instruction each year. The “banked” hours would allow students to avoid making up some missed time.

• Using teacher workdays to extend the school year to the date allowed by state law.

Some guidelines would directly apply to year-round schools, which make up days on Saturdays. Under these guidelines:

• If school is closed early in the week but is open the Thursday or Friday, the school would make up the day on that week’s Saturday if possible.

• The school would only schedule two Saturdays in a row for makeup days.

• The schools would only require students on the year-round tracks that were affected to make up the time. Most of Wake’s year-round schools have students split into four groups, called tracks, with three in class and one on break at a time.

Schools were closed for nine days this year. This doesn’t include the hours that were lost when school dismissed early or opened late.

Some makeup days that were announced were canceled after administrators realized they could take advantage of changes made in state law that allowed them only to make up lost hours, not lost days.

Wake turned a teacher workday on a Friday that started spring break into a makeup day. But the rest of spring break was spared.

The board pulled votes on the 2014-15 and 2015-16 calendars from Tuesday’s agenda. The delay will let administrators revise a “weather statement” that would accompany the calendars to say explicitly that vacation days might be used for makeup days. Board members said they didn’t want to give the false impression that vacation days would never be used.

“In extreme circumstances, vacation days might have to be considered,” school board Vice Chairman Tom Benton said.

Hui: 919-829-4534

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