Southwest Wake News

Wake County students don’t need to make up last week’s snow days

Wake County students won’t have to make up any of the three snow days they enjoyed last week – avoiding for now painful options such as cutting further into spring break and more Saturday makeup days.

Wake school administrators said Tuesday that they have enough cushion built into their school schedule that converting one half day into a full day will allow them to meet state requirements without adding more makeup days. School board members welcomed the information.

“Spring break is saved,” school board Chairwoman Christine Kushner said after the presentation from staff.

Under state law, school districts are required to have either 185 days or 1,025 hours of instruction per year.

For many years, school districts had the requirement of both 180 days and 1,000 hours. But when the law was changed, districts were given the option of adding more hours or more days. Wake, like most districts, opted for 1,025 hours.

Wake faces more problems than most districts this year. Students have lost seven days of classes because of inclement weather both in late January and last week.

Wake administrators have been trying to spare traditional-calendar students, who make up the majority of the system’s 153,000 students, from losing more days scheduled for spring break. The originally planned first day of the break, a Friday, is now a makeup day. After last month’s storm, administrators deviated from the posted schedule to extend the school year for one day rather than take the Monday from spring break, which now starts March 31.

But Cathy Moore, Wake’s deputy superintendent for school performance, said that last week’s snow days left options such as taking more spring break time, as well as adding more Saturday makeup days for year-round schools. Other options included adding more time to the school day and extending the school year to June 13.

Moore said they decided to explore another option and see how many hours above the required 1,025 they were likely to have students attending schools. After a lengthy review of individual schools, she said, planning staff determined that they had “banked” the equivalent of 2.5 school days of extra hours.

Moore said that using the banked days and turning the planned March 7 early release day into a full day will allow Wake to stay at 1,025 hours. Students are dismissed 2.5 hours early on early release days.

“I’m really pleased to say we can make up all three (days),” Moore said.

Moore assured school board members that principals support using this option instead of scheduling the makeup days.

The four makeup days scheduled because of last month’s snow days will still take place as scheduled.

Moore said that families should hope there are no more snow days.

“If we have additional inclement days, we’re going to have to look at adding additional instructional days or instructional hours,” she said.

Also on Tuesday, the school board postponed until March a vote on placing enrollment caps at 20 schools for this fall.