04/04/12 — District OKs new calendar

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District OKs new calendar

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 4, 2012 1:46 PM

The Board of Education approved school calendars for 2012-13 Monday night, in compliance with recent state legislation requiring districts to develop a 185-day calendar.

Members would have preferred, though, for the state to say the school year could start earlier.

For some time now, the district has argued the merits of being able to complete the fall semester before the holiday break, allowing teachers to test students while the information is still fresh rather than interrupt momentum.

Board chairman Eddie Radford, a retired principal and former coach, likened the process to warming up a pitcher and then not letting him play.

"We stuff our children with information and then give them a two-week break," he said.

Schools superintendent Dr. Steve Taylor said it was a moot point unless and until the legislature allows districts to begin the school year sooner.

"Is that ever going to be addressed?" board member Chris West asked.

Dr. Craig McFadden, assistant superintendent for accountability/student services, understands the plight.

"It's just physically impossible to get 90 days in before Christmas," he said. "Until the legislature changes that start day, we're stuck."

West suggested the state's tourism industry appears to be dictating things, with education being a casualty.

"Has anybody ever tried to explain this to legislators?" he asked.

"A thousand times," Taylor said.

He said proposals have been submitted to lawmakers by school districts, but there has been no movement made.

"We're all in agreement, but we just can't change it," he said. "We don't have the authority to change it."

The board voted to approve three calendars for the upcoming school year.

Olivia Pierce, executive director for information, technology services, explained that the state required school districts to develop a calendar that included 185 student days, including 18 holidays and nine teacher workdays.

"That was the calendar we brought to you for traditional schools at the January meeting," she told the board.

Districts also had the opportunity to apply for a waiver for the additional student days, should they prefer not to use them for instructional days. Wayne County officials announced last week that they sought to slate the five days for professional staff development.

"We received notification last week that the waiver request was approved so we have developed new calendars to incorporate that waiver," Mrs. Pierce explained. "We will now have 180 student days and five additional workdays."

The calendar for Wayne Early/Middle College High School and Wayne School of Engineering, which operate on the Wayne Community College calendar, will have 180 student days and 14 teacher workdays, she said.

The third proposed calendar was for Dillard Middle School and Goldsboro High School, which have incorporated the "Transformation Model" through a school improvement grant. Among its requirements were additional coaches in math and science, as well as teachers returning to school earlier than their counterparts across the district and extended school days for students.

The waiver in that case, Mrs. Pierce said, will allow those schools to have the additional five student days for instruction as well as two additional teacher workdays, for a total of 16 workdays.

The board approved the proposed calendars without discussion, except to ask when the calendars could be made public.

Mrs. Pierce said the 2012-13 calendars are expected to be posted on the district website, www.waynecountyschools.org, within the next few days. Some schools may also distribute copies with report cards at the end of the school year, she said.