Wake Ed

Some Triangle school systems not making up January snow days

Vernon Rone, 10, makes a jump right to catch a pass as he and his older brother Cordell Rone, 15, and stepdad Jimmy Clyde played some football on a snow and slush covered Masonic Street in downtown Pittsboro, NC, Jan. 22, 2016. Students in the Chatham County and Orange County school systems will not have to make up this month’s three snow days.
Vernon Rone, 10, makes a jump right to catch a pass as he and his older brother Cordell Rone, 15, and stepdad Jimmy Clyde played some football on a snow and slush covered Masonic Street in downtown Pittsboro, NC, Jan. 22, 2016. Students in the Chatham County and Orange County school systems will not have to make up this month’s three snow days. hlynch@newsobserver.com

Some Triangle students won’t have to pay the price for January’s wintry weather that resulted in as many as three days of missed classes.

The Orange County and Chatham County school systems will not require students to make up the snow days from last Friday, Monday and Tuesday. In contrast, school systems such as Wake County are making up the time with year-round students scheduled to have their first make-up day on Saturday.

Those responses to this month’s storm highlight the different ways school systems are handling the missed days of instruction.

North Carolina school systems are required to either have 185 days of school or 1,025 hours of instruction each year. Most school districts follow the time requirement.

Every school system has more than 1,025 hours built into their schedules. This extra time gives districts a cushion they can use to “forgive” some snow days. Some districts turn to the banked time first while others convert teacher workdays into school days before forgiving snow days.

“We will apply hours already built into the schedule that exceed the minimum number required to account for the instructional time missed,” said Lori Carlin, a spokeswoman for the Chatham County school system. “Please keep in mind that should we miss additional days due to inclement weather, it may be necessary to amend the calendar to provide the required number of instructional hours.”

Like Chatham, Orange County schools is turning first to its banked instructional hours for dealing with snow days. Students in those two districts will face having make-up days if the number of snow days exceeds the amount of banked time available.

In Orange County, all schools have at least 32.5 hours more than the state’s required amount of time. This means the district’s inclement weather plan says the first step is to forgive up to five snow days.

After those five days are gone, Orange County will switch to converting early release days to full days. Then would come use of any remaining teacher workdays and then classes on Saturdays.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro school system, which is located in Orange County but is separate from the county system, is using a different approach to the inclement weather. Chapel Hill is switching three teacher workdays to school days to make up the lost time.

Wake County’s weather plan for traditional-calendar schools follows a different order than the Orange and Chatham school systems. Wake’s first option is using teacher workdays as class days. Only after they’re exhausted would Wake use the extra banked instructional time it has to forgive up to three snow days.

The remaining order is to switch early release days to full days, hold school on Saturday April 16, cut up to three days from spring break and lastly extend the end of the school year.

As I previously blogged about, Wake staff had recommended the approach being used in Chatham and Orange to use banked time first. But the school board told staff to go with teacher workdays first so that students wouldn’t miss the instructional time.

Click here for a blog post listing the different make-up days for each Wake County calendar.

In terms of Wake’s year-round schools, their make-up days are on Saturdays because most schools follow the multi-track calendar. This means there aren’t weekdays where the buildings are empty of students that could be used as instructional days.

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