Smithfield Herald

Johnston schools to join push for calendar flexibility

Johnston County schools will join others in seeking more flexibility in crafting the annual school calendar.

State lawmakers have filed more than a dozen local bills on behalf of North Carolina school districts that want more leeway in deciding when students begin and end the school year. At last week’s Johnston County Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Ed Croom said the district would work with lawmakers to draft its own measure.

Under state law, classes in North Carolina can’t start before the Monday closest to Aug. 26 and can end no later than the Friday closest to June 11. The relatively new calendar law is a nod to North Carolina’s tourism industry, which said early school starts were eroding the profitable summer vacation season.

In its calendar request, Johnston will seek permission to end the first semester before Christmas break; it also wants flexibility in choosing the last day of school. School leaders say those changes would provide more options for making up days lost to bad weather.

Brian Vetrano, the school system’s chief personnel officer, said this year’s calendar left few options for making up a flurry of snow days in February. In the end, the district decided to take two days from spring break to complete its make-up schedule.

“Our options are limited, but we feel like we have involved stakeholders and chosen the best option we have,” Vetrano said.

In addition to cutting into spring break, the district could have held school on Saturdays. Extending the school year by one day, from June 11 to June 12, was also an option, but June 12 is graduation for high school seniors.

Johnston’s Board of Education formally approved the make-up schedule this past week. Croom said the district will be accommodating to families who had already scheduled trips over spring break.

“If you have plans to go on a trip, enjoy your trip,” Croom said.

“We will work with them on waiving their attendance on this issue,” he added.

Board member Peggy Smith said families who haven’t scheduled trips need to send their kids to school.

“This is not really a bad trade for the days we missed,” board member Butler Hall added.

The full make-up schedule is online at www.johnston.k12.nc.us.

Dunn: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104

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