Will the Wake County school system get permission to only add three and not five more days to the 2012-13 school calendar?
As noted in today's article, the state Board of Education will discuss today requests from this list of 69 school districts and four charter schools for waivers for next school year. Most of the 73 requests are for full waivers, but Wake is asking for a partial waiver.
Under Wake's waiver request, the district would add three days. The other two days would be used as teacher workdays. Click here for Wake's proposed 2012-13 school calendars should the waivers be approved.
If the State Board rejects the waiver, staff would have to come back and develop a new set of 2012-13 calendars.
One of the questions is how hard a line will the State Board take this time on the waiver requests. Almost all the school districts got waivers for the 2011-12 school year because the new requirement was adopted in June just months before classes started.
“The intent of the General Assembly was to have a longer school year so I would think that waivers would be the exception rather than the rule this time,” said Bill Harrison, chairman of the state board.
“We need them to follow the law,” added State Sen. Jerry W. Tillman, a Randolph County Republican and co-chairman of the Senate Education Committee. “The state Board should be very careful about giving waivers.”
The reason being cited by school districts for waivers is the desire to use some or all of those five extra days on professional development as the state begins implementation of the common core in 2012-13.
Tillman said he doesn’t find the concerns about lack of time for professional development to be compelling enough to grant waivers for next school year. He said that school districts will always be able to find reasons not to add the days if given the option.
“They’ll have to deal with professional development the best way they can,” Tillman said.
Tillman cites the benefits that would come from five additional days, especially considering how U.S. students have a shorter school year than other industrialized nations.
"We just want to enhance student learning, and we think this will do that," Tillman said of the additional school days.
But Wake school board member Kevin Hill argues that student learning will benefit more from the professional development time that teachers receive.
“Professional development is getting killed,” Hill said. “These extra days are coming out of professional development, and I think that has as much impact on student achievement as two extra days or three extra days.”
Based on the talk at the State Board meeting today, it's not looking like school districts will get waivers on Thursday.