Smithfield Herald

Johnston make-up days cut into spring break

A child sleds down a hill in Clayton’s Glen Laurel subdivision on Feb. 24. His spring break will be two days shorter because of snow and ice.
A child sleds down a hill in Clayton’s Glen Laurel subdivision on Feb. 24. His spring break will be two days shorter because of snow and ice. ndunn@newsobserver.com

Johnston County parents are offering mixed opinions about their children going to school during spring break.

The school system’s tentative plan for making up a flurry of recent snow days chops two days off the end of spring break.

Those two days, April 9-10, were already on the 2014-15 calendar as possible make-up days. That’s one reason school leaders chose to cut into spring break rather than hold Saturday school or extend the school year, said district spokeswoman Tracey Peedin Jones.

The district weaves five inclement-weather days into its calendar each year.

“We do realize that because we put that information out, there were a lot of community members and employees who made plans around inclement-weather days,” Jones said.

After the district released its make-up calendar on Monday, dozens of parents reacted on social media.

Some liked the decision.

“Thank you Johnston County Schools for keeping our kids safe and their education a priority!” Amy Dawkins Phelps wrote in a post on the school system’s Facebook page.

Others were unhappy.

“My children will not be attending on spring break,” Amanda Mae Jordan said in a Facebook post. “Some of us already have plans. Figure it out Johnston County ... really!”

Jones said the district did consider alternatives, including holding school on Saturdays. But Saturday school puts a burden not only on students but teachers too, she said.

“We have many employees and high school students who work second jobs on the weekends,” Jones said. “We have employees and students who volunteer for community events.”

Other options included taking away a holiday, such as Memorial Day, or extending the school year. Jones said the district could have added a day, June 12, to the end of the year. That’s the same day as high school graduation.

“Our high schools need that time to really know who all is graduating,” Jones said. “We do have some of our seniors who are waiting for those last scores to know if they are graduating or not.”

Snow and ice storms in February made travel treacherous and prompted schools to cancel seven days of classes in two weeks.

After students missed four consecutive days, Feb. 17-20, the Johnston County Board of Education initially scheduled make-up days around spring break.

However, another round of winter weather led to additional cancellations Feb. 24-26. Making up those days will require cutting into spring break.

Traditional-calendar and year-round students will now have classes April 9 and 10 to make up for the Feb. 25-26 snow days. Students at the early and middle college will have classes March 12 and 13 – their final days of spring break.

Students won’t have to make up the Feb. 24 snow day because the school system had built in more than the 1,025 classroom hours required annually by the state.

Johnston is making up the Feb. 17-20 snow days by forgiving one day and having traditional-calendar and year-round students go to school for full days instead March 11, April 29 and June 10. Those had been early-release days.

In addition, classes will be held March 27 and June 11 for traditional-calendar students, March 20 and June 11 for year-round students and April 2 and May 22 for early college and middle college students.

To see the full calendar, go to www.johnston.k12.nc.us.

Dunn: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104.

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