It may be possible for the Wake County school system to avoid adding an extra 10 minutes a day to every school next year to meet new state requirements.
Deputy Superintendent Cathy Moore told school board members last week that only some schools may need to modify their bell schedules to make sure they have at least 1,025 hours of instruction.
At issue is that the General Assembly modified the calendar law this year to say that, beginning in 2013-14, school districts would now have to have either 185 days or at least 1,025 hours of instruction. In August, the school board followed staff's recommendation to adopt a 180-day calendar for 2013-14 with the issue of how to get the 1,025 hours to be resolved later.
Historically, state law set the school year at 180 days and 1,000 hours.
But the General Assembly changed the law in 2011 to say districts had to have both 185 days and 1,025 hours of instruction. Wake's response a year ago was to tack 10 minutes extra to the end of the day to get to 1,025 hours in hopes that the State Board of Education would let them stay with 180 days.
Wake, like most school districts, wound up getting waivers the past two school years to stick with both 180 days and 1,000 hours. In response, legislators agreed to say that districts only have to either 185 days or 1,025 hours and not both.
During last week's board work session, Moore said she's been checking with principals to see if they're already meeting the 1,025 hours in their schools.
Moore didn't say which schools might still be short, but it's more likely to be a problem with elementary schools than the upper grades.
For instance, most elementary schools run from 9:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. In theory, that works out to 1,170 hours a year. But keep in mind the law says instructional hours. So you have to deduct time for things like lunch, recess and early-release days.
A challenge Wake could face is adding in time for some schools without having too much of a negative impact on the ability of buses to serve other schools on their route.