Wake Ed

Wake County requiring makeup day for Friday’s snow day

Icy conditions make for sledding fun for Raleigh children

Watch Raleigh children making the most out of icy conditions on Flint Place, just off of Hillsborough Street in Raleigh, NC Friday afternoon, January 22, 2016.
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Watch Raleigh children making the most out of icy conditions on Flint Place, just off of Hillsborough Street in Raleigh, NC Friday afternoon, January 22, 2016.

Families can thank, or blame, the Wake County school board for having to make up Friday’s snow day.

School administrators had recommended in April that the first three snow days in the 2015-16 school year be made up by using “banked” instructional time, meaning students wouldn’t have to come to class. All Wake County schools have built into their calendars more than the state’s required 1,025 annual hours of instruction, allowing them to forgive up to three snow days.

But school board members told staff last spring that they didn’t want students to miss the instructional time. As a result, Friday will be made up by traditional-calendar schools using a teacher workday and year-round schools will hold classes on a Saturday.

“We’re preserving instructional time and professional development,” then-school board Chairwoman Christine Kushner said in April of making up the days first instead of forgiving them.

Traditional-calendar and modified-calendar students will now have classes on Feb. 15, which is President’s Day. Year-round students on tracks 1, 2 and 3 will have classes on April 2. Track 4 is off the hook because those students are already on break.

The two leadership academies will have classes on Feb. 16. The Wake Early College of Health and Sciences and the Vernon Malone College and Career Academy will have classes March 3. The Wake STEM Early College will have classes on May 6.

In the adopted traditional-calendar order of makeup days, teacher workdays will be used first as makeup days. The remaining workdays available, in this order, are Feb. 15, March 24 and April 25.

So if there’s a second snow day, March 24 is next in line to be a makeup day. Keep in mind that March 24 is, depending on how you consider it, the first day of spring break or the last day before it officially begins.

After the workdays are exhausted, Wake would turn to the banked instructional time to replace up to three days.

If there’s more snow days to be made up, Wake would convert Feb. 12 and March 4 from early release days to full days. It takes converting two early release days, where classes get out 2 1/2 hours early, to full days to replace a single day.

Next would come classes on the Saturday of April 16. It would be a full day of school.

If things got really desperate, Wake would officially cut into spring break by first taking away April 1, March 31 and then March 30. The last option is to extend the school year by a day to June 10.

If the school board had gone with the staff recommendation, the three banked days would have been used first, meaning students would not have to come to school to replace Friday’s snow day. Then would have come converting the early release days. Only then would teacher workdays be used

Admittedly, it wasn’t a recommendation that staff was enthusiastically making.

“This is reflecting the community’s desire more than the instructional intent,” Superintendent Jim Merrill told board members in April. “Because your parents are going to want you to burn this up first, early release also. This is a concession to that.”

All of this is occurring after the roller coaster that families went through last school year when Wake kept revising makeup day plans as snow days mounted.

After Wake initially missed four days on Feb. 17-20, school leaders announced that the first day of spring break would be used as one of the makeup days. Following complaints, Wake dropped that plan in favor of changing early-release days to full days and using banked time.

Wake tweeted that “spring break is safe” when a decision was made March 3 to replace the Feb. 25-27 snow days by holding classes on Good Friday and two Saturdays. The situation changed again March 7 when the district announced it was instead going to schedule traditional-calendar students for school on March 23-25 – the first three days of spring break.