Fans of this year’s Johnston County school calendar should find plenty to like in next year’s calendar, as the two are nearly identical.
Classes next year will begin Monday, Aug. 28, and summer break is slated to begin Thursday, June 7. Teachers will report to their schools Aug. 16 for eight workdays before school officially starts and will have six workdays after school lets out.
Human resources director Brian Vetrano said state law requires school districts to start no earlier than the Monday closest to Aug. 26 and end no later than the Friday closest to June 11. He said a calendar committee of 44 teachers, school staff and administrators, parents and students created this year’s calendar from 21 possible options, settling on three that were posted to the school’s website to generate feedback. The school board approved the proposed calendar earlier this month.
“There was much support for our current calendars, so you’ll notice similarities between the two,” Vetrano said.
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Beyond the date requirements, Vetrano said school districts have to build in 185 student days or 1,025 instructional hours, plus 11 holidays and 10 leave days. Ten-month employees must work 215 days.
Next year’s calendar has four nine-week periods, with the first quarter ending Oct. 31, the second Jan. 25, the third March 28 and the fourth on the last day of school. Make-up days for bad weather fall on Nov. 1, Jan. 18, March 29 and April 4-5. Also in the calendar: a three-day Thanksgiving holiday, a two-week Christmas break and a week in early April for spring break.
In response to a question from departing school board member Larry Strickland about early release for Benson’s Mule Days, Vetrano said early-release days will be planned out later. Strickland also noted that the calendar has three non-days, or days in which no one’s in school and no one’s getting paid. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is one such day, and the 2017-18 calendar has three such days, the most ever in a Johnston school year. Vetrano said that’s the current nature of the beast.
“These are becoming more common due to limitations school districts have in creating a calendar,” Vetrano said.
The Johnston County school board would like to see classes start earlier in the year, but state law mandates a late-August start largely to stimulate North Carolina’s tourism industry. Board of education members took the opportunity to lobby one of their own before he heads to Raleigh, as Strickland is leaving the board after winning the District 28 N.C. House seat.
“I have that on my list,” Strickland said of granting local school boards more flexibility. “When I first came on the board, we could take exams before Christmas.”