WCPSS staff have grappled with next year’s instructional calendars for months now. And that’s not hyperbole.
Many options have been considered. The problems are parameters that state statute dictates for the school calendar and the (un)lucky fall of calendar dates. 2012 Senate Bill 187 (Session Law 2012-145) states that the first instructional day for students cannot be any earlier than the Monday closest to August 26. The last instructional day cannot be any later than the Friday closest to June 11.
For the 2016-2017 school year, these parameters cinch in tightly the number of days eligible to be in the calendar. School cannot start any earlier than August 29 and can extend no longer than June 9. Between those dates, WCPSS staff reported, there are 205 week days.
And then there are required holidays (11) and teacher vacation days (10). Subtract those, and there are 184 days left. The law says there must be 185 days – or 1,025 hours – of instruction. WCPSS uses the hour approach, and has accrued additional hours in the past few years. These additional hours have allowed them to waive making up some weather days.
So where do the teacher workdays go? Some are placed at the beginning and end of the year for professional development, classroom preparation, and end-of-year task wrap-up. But there are also those that typically occur before grades are due and at the beginning and end of semesters. Professional development also occurs throughout the school year on other teacher workdays. WCPSS has 14 teacher workdays scheduled for the 2016-17 school year – the same number for the 2015-2016 school year.
Districts around the state are also grappling with this same problem. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg system has adopted a calendar of 176 student days and 18 teacher workdays (seven at the beginning, three at the end, and eight throughout the year). Winston-Salem/Forsythe schools are using a 180 day calendar with 14 teacher workdays (five at the beginning, five at the end, and four throughout the year).
At Tuesday’s Board of Education work session, staff presented a final set of options for board members to consider. A few changes were recommended and will be incorporated.
The next step is to identify weather makeup days – in the order they’ll be used.
And hope upon hope there will be no snow.