Under the Dome

Bill would give Wake County school calendar flexibility

A bill filed Tuesday in the state House would give the Wake County school system the ability to set its own start and end dates for the school year.

House Bill 206 would exempt Wake from the state requirement that traditional-calendar schools start no earlier than the Monday closest to Aug. 26 and end no later than the Friday closest to June 11. If adopted, the change would go into effect for the 2015-16 school year.

The bill’s three primary sponsors are all members of the Wake County delegation: Democrats Rosa Gill and Yvonne Lewis Holley and Republican Gary Pendleton. The bill has six other sponsors, including Wake County Democrat Gale Adcock.

The bill joins more than a dozen others filed this session in the General Assembly to give school calendar flexibility either to individual districts or statewide.

The Wake County school board has asked for calendar flexibility in its legislative agenda, with members agreeing last month to request a local bill on the issue.

During last week’s school board work session, board members complained about how the school calendar law would force the district to start Aug. 29 and end June 9 in the 2016-17 school year, limiting Wake’s flexibility to offer teacher workdays and handle makeup days. Board members have blamed the calendar law with causing the district to cut into spring break this year for makeup days.

School administrators floated the idea last week of asking for a state waiver to allow traditional-calendar schools to start Aug. 22 in the 2016-17 school year. But Wake wouldn’t qualify under state law for a waiver.

Since the calendar law was passed in 2004, the tourism industry has successfully fought off any challenges to the legislation.