Education

Here’s when the 2019-20 school year could start and end for Wake students

Cathie Linkous, a kindergarten teacher, greets twins Jessica and Jackie Cortez Valdez at Lincoln Heights Elementary School in Fuquay-Varina on Aug. 29, 2016.
Cathie Linkous, a kindergarten teacher, greets twins Jessica and Jackie Cortez Valdez at Lincoln Heights Elementary School in Fuquay-Varina on Aug. 29, 2016. ehyman@newsobserver.com

The 2019-20 school year for traditional Wake County schools would open Aug. 26 and end June 11 under a proposed calendar unveiled Tuesday.

Students would have the following days off:

▪  Sept. 2

▪  Sept. 18

▪  Oct. 9

▪  Nov. 1

▪  Nov. 11

▪  Nov. 27-29

▪  Dec. 23-Jan. 1

▪  Jan. 20-21

▪  Feb. 17-18

▪  March 9

▪  March 27

▪  April 6-13

▪  May 25

Teachers would have workdays on the following dates:

▪  Aug. 19-23

▪  Sept. 18

▪  Oct. 9

▪  Nov. 1

▪  Jan. 21

▪  Feb. 18

▪  March 9

▪  March 27

▪  April 13

▪  June 12.

Under North Carolina law, traditional-calendar schools can start no earlier than the Monday closest to Aug. 26 and end no later than the Friday closest to June 11.

State lawmakers passed the calendar law in 2004 with the support of the tourism industry and some parents who were concerned that traditional-calendar schools were starting in early August.

But the calendar law, because of its restrictions on the start and end of school, can cause headaches for calendar makers who want to give teachers ample workdays during the instructional year.

Wake’s 10-month teachers get paid for 215 days a year – 180 instructional days, 11 holidays, 10 annual leave/vacation days and 14 teacher workdays.

But because of the calendar law, the current school year has just five workdays during the instructional year, giving teachers few days for training and to catch up on paperwork. Instead, the 2017-18 calendar was front-loaded with workdays: Last August, teachers on the traditional calendar had seven workdays before students arrived for the first day of classes.

In 2019-20, teachers would have eight workdays during the instructional year. Six of those would be after the new year, allowing more possible makeup days for inclement weather.

Modified calendar

Under the proposed modified calendar unveiled Tuesday, the school year would begin July 24 and end May 22.

Students would have the following days off:

▪  Sept. 2

▪  Sept. 30-Oct. 11

▪  Nov. 11

▪  Nov. 27-29

▪  Dec. 23-Jan. 3

▪  Jan. 20

▪  Feb. 17

▪  March 9-20

▪  April 10.

Just five Wake schools operate on the modified calendar: Southeast Raleigh High, Centennial Campus Middle, Moore Square Middle, Carver Elementary and Partnership Elementary.

Things could change

The proposed traditional calendar, in particular, could still change before its likely adoption in March. Some school board members expressed an interest in giving teachers at least one workday a month. The draft calendar has no workdays in December or May.

Also, the draft calendar doesn’t spell out any early-release days, mostly because teachers have said they prefer full workdays to abbreviated ones.

That was OK with board member Lindsay Mahaffey. “I’m going to go with what the teachers say,” she said.

Finally, the draft doesn’t lay out possible makeup days or the order in which the schools would use them. In recent years, Wake schools have used a mix of makeup days and so-called “bank hours” to cover time lost to bad weather. (Because Wake students go to school for more than the 1,025 hours required by the state, they have hours in the bank they can use to forgive time lost to bad weather.)

Board member Bill Fletcher said he would, within reason, prefer to make up lost days before forgiving them. “I really think the makeup days are important” for student instruction, he said.

Scott Bolejack: 919-829-4629, @ScottBolejack

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