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NC House bill would allow earlier start to school year

Posted March 4, 2011

School Bus

— State lawmakers are considering a bill that would give local school boards more flexibility with when to start and end the school year.

House Bill 94 would repeal a 2004 law that requires districts to begin the school year after Aug. 25 and end it no later than June 10.

Under the proposed legislation, schools operating on a traditional calendar schedule would be able to open any time after Aug. 15. The bill does not apply to schools operating on a year-round calendar.

Supporters of changing the law point to issues like a high number of snow days, especially in the western part of the state, and the challenge in making those up to meet the 180 days of school mandated by state law.

“They need the flexibility to have calendars that speak to the needs of their system,” said Jo Ann Norris, associate executive director of the Public School Forum of North Carolina, a nonprofit public school advisory board.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson agrees.

“North Carolina is very diverse. In the western part of this state, for example, Watauga County, the Boone area, would probably miss about 20 days per (school) year,” she said. “Why should not Watauga County have the authority to set its own calendar without having to go through a waiver process?”

School calendar bill could affect NC tourism School calendar bill could affect NC tourism

The 2004 legislation was the result of a group of business owners and parents who, in part, were concerned about how extending the school calendar into the summer months could affect local tourism economies.

Businesses at North Carolina tourist destinations depend on the summer months to boost their profits, and business owners say every week of the tourism season is critical.

“(The school calendar) affects so many things, not just tourism, but it affects jobs,” said Ronnie Watson, a businessman on Emerald Isle who helped push for the 2004 law. “You’re talking about hundreds of millions of lost revenue to our state.”

Atkinson said she believes local school boards across the state should also take into consideration the travel and tourism industry, as well as the community’s needs and wants.

As it stands now, House Bill 94 doesn’t specify when the last day of the school year can be. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Commerce and Job Development.

If the bill passes, it would become law beginning with the 2011-2012 school year.

26 Comments

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  • scotlandlover Mar 4, 7:47 p.m.

    Parents,check those summer camps that you may have already signed up for.If this bill passes,some camps are the week of August 15th.Double check that you can get your money-back if they push up the start date of school.Just a thought...

  • scotlandlover Mar 4, 7:35 p.m.

    Here we go again.Every so often the lawmakers mess up everyone's summer!

  • urchin123 Mar 4, 7:04 p.m.

    I hate seeing kids have to take exams after the winter break-it would be so much more conducive to the logical start of a new semester if Fall semester classes could give exams in December and start a new semester when winter break ends. AND if we cut about 5 days off that winter break and redistribute those (or not) we could actually bank time and not have to worry about making up huge chunks of school time. I too stay away from the beaches in the summer as I would rather go in the spring and fall. I also think year round school makes sense. American children spend less time in school than other industrialized nations. Get rid of the law.

  • wardencates Mar 4, 6:55 p.m.

    just let western part State begin earlier. I stay in Atlantic Beach, NC a lot and starting the school year in middle of August KILLS that area!!!! Local buisness/rests as struggling as it is now!!!!

  • james27613 Mar 4, 6:47 p.m.

    They should add to the bill a provision that removes the
    governors from the busses so they can drive 55 on I-40
    instead of causing the entire right lane to clog up.

  • GoGreen Mar 4, 6:47 p.m.

    I REALLY HATE THIS LAW.

  • GoGreen Mar 4, 6:47 p.m.

    I actually avoid NC Beaches after August 10th as my way to protest the state tourism lobby. I will not ever go to a NC beach between Aug 10 and Aug 24.

    REPEAL THIS STOOPID LAW!!!!!

  • GoGreen Mar 4, 6:46 p.m.

    DOWN WITH TOURISM SPECIAL INTERESTS WHEN IT COMES TO CHILDREN EDUCATION!!!

  • GoGreen Mar 4, 6:45 p.m.

    REPEAL THE STUPID LAW!!!!!

  • GoGreen Mar 4, 6:44 p.m.

    BTW, I have one child in YR school that starts in July. The weather is PERFECT to be in school.

    State reps, when it comes to schools, do what is best for the CHILDREN, not what is best for BUSINESS. Repealing this law will allow schools to have LOCAL CHOICE. It WILL NOT REQUIRE schools to start earlier. All you republicans sitting there whining about "more goobermint" this and that ought to support the new bill or outright repeal of the old law. 'Cause it gives control of the school calendar back to the districts.

    I hate GOLO!

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