Wake Ed

Draft 2018-19 Wake County school calendars released

Ron Pearson, a fourth grader, is greeted during the first day of school at Lincoln Heights Elementary School in Fuquay-Varina, N.C., on August 29, 2016. The Wake County school board received draft 2018-19 calendars for traditional, modified and year-round schools on Feb. 7, 2017.
Ron Pearson, a fourth grader, is greeted during the first day of school at Lincoln Heights Elementary School in Fuquay-Varina, N.C., on August 29, 2016. The Wake County school board received draft 2018-19 calendars for traditional, modified and year-round schools on Feb. 7, 2017. ehyman@newsobserver.com

Draft 2018-19 Wake County school calendars were unveiled Tuesday with school leaders complaining that North Carolina’s school calendar law is putting restrictions on how the traditional-calendar schedule can be drawn up.

School administrations presented a draft calendar for year-round schools and a draft calendar for modified-calendar schools. Two versions for the new traditional calendar, draft one and draft two, were also presented to the school board for review.

The main difference between the two draft 2018-19 traditional calendars is how many teacher workdays are built in between the first and last day of classes. Draft one has four workdays during the instructional calendar while draft two has six workdays.

Both drafts are guided by the state’s school calendar law that says 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.

The calendar law was originally passed in 2004 with the support of the tourism industry and some parents who were concerned about how traditional-calendar schools were starting in early August.

School districts around the state have long requested calendar flexibility, but the tourism industry has fought off efforts to substantially change the law..

Wake’s 10-month employees must work 215 days a year that includes 180 instructional days, 11 holidays, 10 annual leave/vacation days and 14 teacher workdays. Deputy Superintendent Cathy Moore said the problem is that the calendar law only has 205 available weekdays that could be used for classes during the 2018-19 school year.

To make sure there’s 180 instructional days, Wake has to either place 10 workdays or some of the vacation days outside the instructional calendar.

Districts like to have as many workdays as possible in the instructional calendar because they are used for training and to allow teachers to get caught up on their paperwork. Those workdays are also often used as weather makeup days.

School leaders were not happy about only having four workdays between the first and last days of classes in draft one.

“It’s a tight year,” Moore told school board members.

Draft two adds more workdays during the instructional year by moving two teacher vacation days to after the last day of class.

“Vacation should be vacation,” said school board member Lindsay Mahaffey.

School board member Bill Fletcher placed the blame on the calendar law. One of the byproducts of the calendar law is that draft one has eight teacher workdays before the first day of class.

“It looks foolish to have eight workdays before students start,” Fletcher said. “It’s a response to an inappropriate restriction.”

Staff will bring back the draft calendars to the school board on Feb. 21.

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