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School_Calendar_Report

School_Calendar_Report

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School Calendar Flexibility Report No. 2017-01 Teacher Association. 14 Exhibit 16 shows the majority of respondents to the polls and the survey believe local school districts should determine school start dates. Exhibit 16: Public Opinion Favors Local School Districts Determining School Start Dates Response Options Elon University Poll (n=660) High Point University Poll (n = 404) Parent and School Personnel Survey (n=46,139) State law should determine the start date for North Carolina public schools 25% 30% 15% Local school districts should determine the start date for their schools 65% 62% 75% No opinion/Did not respond 10% 9% 10% Source: Program Evaluation Division based on polling and survey data. No change to North Carolina’s school calendar law satisfies all stakeholders. To determine whether consensus existed around any one particular change to the school calendar law, the Program Evaluation Division created six options for modifying the school calendar law and presented them to stakeholders. In developing the six options listed below, the Program Evaluation Division considered how the current law affects the school calendar, the increased flexibility requested in bills introduced during recent legislative sessions, and concerns about the length of summer break. Option A. This option proposes that school starts no earlier than the Monday closest to August 26 as required under current law, but it would discontinue the specified end date of the Friday closest to June 11. The Program Evaluation Division found that most other states with laws directing when the school year can start did not specify an end date. 15 Option B. This option proposes that school starts the Monday closest to August 24 and ends no later than the Friday closest to June 11. As discussed in Finding 1, the current school calendar periodically reduces the school year by one week, and this proposal would eliminate that issue. Option C. This option proposes that school starts the Monday closest to August 19 and ends no later than the Friday closest to June 11. Under current law, LEAs receiving a good cause wavier can start school one week earlier to allow for inclement weather make-up days, and this proposal would allow all LEAs to start school one week earlier to increase scheduling flexibility. 14 The polls and the survey used the same question so results could be compared. Before responding to the question about state or local control of the school calendar, respondents received the following information: “Currently, state law requires public schools in North Carolina to start the last week of August. Previously, state law allowed local school districts to determine the starting day for their schools, and many districts started school in early August.” The Elon University Poll and High Point University Poll reported that 23% and 24% of their respondents had children in the public schools, respectively. 15 As shown in Exhibit 5, Maryland is the only state other than North Carolina to specify an end date. The other 12 states with school calendar laws do not specify an end date. Page 21 of 38

School Calendar Flexibility Report No. 2017-01 Option D. This option proposes that school starts no earlier than August 10 and ends no later than May 31. In legislation introduced during the 2015 session, 21 LEAs requested authority to hold fall semester exams before the winter break, and this proposal would allow schools to start early enough to meet instructional time requirements and complete the fall semester before winter break. Option E. This option proposes that school starts no earlier than August 15 and ends no later than May 31 to allow alignment with the community college calendar. Legislation introduced during the 2015 session would have authorized LEAs to align their school calendar with the community college calendar. The State Board for Community Colleges directs community colleges to start the fall semester on or after August 15, and this proposal would allow LEAs to align their school calendar with the community college serving their district. Option F. This option restores State Board of Education authority to approve a waiver to the school calendar law for an educational purpose for a specific school or defined program. Legislation introduced during the 2015 session proposed reinstating the educational purpose waiver that was eliminated in 2012. Exhibit 17 provides further information about these options for modifying the school calendar law and compares the proposals to the current state law. In addition, the exhibit provides information about starting school after Labor Day—an option proposed by some organizations representing travel and tourism interests. Page 22 of 38

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