School Board Adds Five Days to Calendar
The Moore County Board of Education wrapped up the school year at its regular meeting Monday, while also looking toward the future.
The board adopted a revised version of the 2011-2012 school calendar to accommodate a measure in the N.C. General Assembly's adopted budget to extend the school year for students by five days.
The General Assembly prescribes "that we would make the student calendar to be 185 days, and we would do that by taking five teacher workdays and converting them to student days," Superintendent Susan Purser said. "It does not make a longer year for the adults. It just makes a longer year for the students."
Though Gov. Beverly Perdue has vetoed the General Assembly's budget, Purser said the board is taking action now to revise the calendar to let families know of the changes ahead of time if the provision passes.
"Adding five days came out of nowhere," she said. "And the concern is that people are now making plans and we need to let them know that there's the potential [for change]."
Purser stressed that while there will be additional instruction days, the school system is still bound by state law, which requires that the traditional school year start no earlier than Aug. 25 and end no later than June 10 for students.
Purser said she and her staff found few options available when trying to add days to the calendar within these constraints.
The extra days added to the traditional calendar are Oct. 10, Oct. 11, Dec. 21, Jan. 23 and March 9. Two of those days, Oct. 10. Jan. 23 and March 9, were previously teacher workdays that will now be full days for students.
Oct. 11 was previously a day set aside for parent-teacher conferences, but the day is now an early release day with conferences scheduled that afternoon, and Dec. 21 will also be an early release day.
Purser told the board it was especially important to let families know about the change in the October dates because the old version of the calendar gave the families a long weekend.
The additional days on the year-round calendar are Sept. 19 and 20, Jan. 3 and 23 and March 28. Sept. 20 will be an early release day.
Purser added that schools would dismiss four hours after they start on early release days next year.
"With the staggering of school start times, we are no longer in a position where we can all get out at the same time," she said.
Board members expressed frustration with the General Assembly's provision, saying that the measure does not give the system much flexibility.
Chairwoman Laura Lang said the measure spreads curriculum staff thinner by requiring professional development sessions to be conducted at individual schools, rather than with one large group of teachers on a work day.
"I'm very disappointed that [the General Assembly is] once again taking our teacher workdays, which limit our opportunities to work with teachers," Purser said. "We'll have to be creative with how we use our time."
Board member Bruce Cunningham added that the lack of breaks limits opportunities for high school students to visit perspective colleges while they are in session.
Besides workdays before the start and after the end of the school year, teachers will only see two workdays - Jan. 2 and Feb. 20 - while school is in session with the inclusion of five additional days.
During her comments, Purser also credited Union Pines High School Principal Robin Lea and North Moore High Principal Scott Absher, of North Moore High School, for making the hard decision to hold scheduled graduation ceremonies on Friday evening despite storms in the area.
Union Pines held its ceremony outside, as planned, while North Moore moved its ceremony inside, with limited seating, because of the weather.
Though some parents were critical, Purser said she supported each principal's decision not to cancel the ceremonies.
In other business, Lang announced that the board has chosen to extend Purser's contract by one year after conducting a performance evaluation that found her to be "distinguished in her area of excellence."
Purser expressed her appreciation to the board for its continuing support.
"I love working with Moore County schools, and it's a pleasure. Thank you," she said.
The board also appointed former member Pam Thompson to serve on the Sandhills Community College Board of Trustees. She will replace Larry Caddell, whose term on the board expires June 30.
Contact Hannah Sharpe at email@example.com.
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