The Wake County school board will vote Tuesday on the calendars that will be used for the 2013-14 school year.
Staff presented this week this set of draft 2013-14 calendars for traditional, year-round and modified schools. The only change the board requested is that June 11 instead of Nov. 27 be used as a weather makeup day on the traditional calendar.
The change was requested because the evening of Nov. 27, 2013 is the start of Hanukkah. Another reason that Nov. 27 is scheduled as a a vacation day is that it's the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
As you can see from the calendars, Wake staff is proposing sticking with a 180-day instructional year.
The General Assembly says that school districts, beginning in the 2013-14 school year, must have either 185 days of instruction or 1,025 hours of instruction.
For many years, state law required districts to have both 180 days and 1,000 hours. Then the General Assembly changed the requirement in 2011 to 185 days and 1,025 hours.
Most school districts, including Wake, took advantage of the option allowed by legislators to get a waiver from the state Board of Education. Educators complained that adding the extra days would raise costs and reduce time for professional development.
This year, the General Assembly amended the law to allow districts to either have the increased days or the increased hours. In return for this flexibility, school districts can't get waivers.
Tamani Anderson Powell, a director in the magnet programs office and head of the year-round calendar committee, told the school board it would be hard to add the extra days to the year-round calendar.
The issue is that adding the days would result in 20 days where all four tracks are in session, which would create crowding problems at some year-round schools.
"It would be a nightmare in the building itself," she said.
In lieu of adding the days, Wake would have to extend the school day by about nine or 10 minutes to reach the 1,025-hour mark. The additional time would be factored into the 2013-14 bell schedules that staff will later bring to the board.
Some other topics came up during the board discussion of the calendars.
Board member Debra Goldman asked about having Election Day in 2013 as a teacher workday, just like what's happening this year at traditional-calendar schools because many schools are polling places and turnout is expected to be high for the presidential election.
Goldman was reminded that turnout for next year's elections will be much lighter. Only the school board, Raleigh and Cary will be on the October ballot. Runoffs in those contests and the general elections for Wake's other towns will be on the November ballot.
The board also talked about the placement of spring break on the traditional calendar. School board policy 5030 says that "the spring break for students following the traditional calendar should be scheduled in conjunction with the end of the third nine-weeks grading period unless other features of the calendar make such scheduling inappropriate."
In 2014, spring break for the traditional calendar is scheduled for the week of March 31. This puts it two weeks before Good Friday on April 18.
But in the 2011-12 school year, spring break coincided with Holy Week — the period between Palm Sunday and Easter.
Board member Susan Evans said she would prefer that spring break not be held the week before Easter. She said holding spring break then means a lot of families who'd like to participate in Holy Week services are unable to do so.
Evans explained that many families like to go on vacation during spring break. This means when Holy Week coincides with spring break that families are not in town for church activities.
The calendars are scheduled to be on the board's consent agenda next week.