Johnston County students will start classes a week later next year under the 2016-2017 school calendar approved last week by the Board of Education. Despite that slightly later start, summer break will begin June 8 for another year.
State law stipulates that school districts start classes no earlier than Aug. 26 and dismiss no later than June 11. For Johnston County, that means Aug. 29 and June 8 next school year. Classes began Aug. 24 this year and schools are slated to let out June 8. The late August start for N.C. schools is designed to keep the state’s tourism industry afloat through the summer.
Under Johnston’s 2016-2017 calendar, teachers will report to their classrooms Aug. 18 for seven workdays leading up to the first day of class. The three-day Thanksgiving holiday begins Wednesday, Nov. 23, and the two-week winter break starts Monday, Dec. 19, and ends Tuesday, Jan. 3. Spring break is April 10-14 and high school graduations are scheduled for Friday, June 9. Students and teachers will have holidays on Labor Day, Veterans Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Memorial Day.
Brian Vetrano, the district’s director of human resources, said the 215-calendar has 1,025 hours of classroom instruction, 10 vacation days, 11 holidays and 17 teacher workdays.
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School board member Peggy Smith, a former principal in Johnston County, noted the long stretch from spring break to graduation as potentially daunting for students, with only Memorial Day off in that stretch.
“That’s a long haul,” she said. “I mean, it’s good for continuity, but the light at the end of the tunnel will look a long way away.”
Quarters will end Oct. 28, Jan. 25, March 30 and June 8. In case of bad-weather closures, the district built in five “inclement weather days,” meaning students could find themselves back in the classroom Jan. 2, Jan. 26, March 31, April 10 and June 9.
Vetrano said the 45-member calendar committee crafted three possible calendars and received feedback on them until Nov. 16. The approved calendar deviates slightly from all three. One calendar was especially radical, Vetrano said, noting that it proposed to end the first semester before winter break, nearly a month before the approved calendar’s.
“We kind of thought that one wouldn’t be popular but wanted to have a range of options,” he said.
Drew Jackson: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104; @jdrewjackson