Some NC schools could get calendar relief in wake of Hurricane Matthew
Posted October 24, 2016
Updated October 26, 2016
Raleigh, N.C. — Top House lawmakers say they want to give school districts affected by Hurricane Matthew relief from the requirement they operate for 185 days per year.
"This is essentially giving flexibility back to the local school districts," Rep. Gregory Murphy, R-Pitt, said during a news conference Monday.
Schools closed in the aftermath of Matthew for a variety of reasons. Flooded roads, for example, made it impossible for some students to get to school.
"You also have schools that were damaged," House Speaker Tim Moore said, pointing to two schools in Robeson County that were damaged by flood waters.
At this point, Moore said he does not anticipate lawmakers will return for a special session on the hurricane this fall. The General Assembly is scheduled to come back to session in January. Any change would not be certain until it was passed by the legislature and signed into law.
Schools can already choose between being in session for 185 days or meeting a threshold for a total number of hours spent in the classroom every year.
The House lawmakers' proposal would create a one-time amendment to the state's school calendar law. Districts that had to close due to flooding would be able to apply to the Department of Public Instruction for a waiver.
In the absence of such a waiver, schools might have been forced to extend each instructional day for the remainder of the year by 20 or 30 minutes.
"Give me a break. What does that do?" asked Rep. Jimmy Dixon, R-Duplin. "We are more interested in the spirit of what happens while they're in school than exactly how long they're in school."
Asked during the new conference what would happen if winter weather brought snow and, therefore, more lost days of school, Moore said lawmakers could take that into account.
"This at least creates a mechanism that can address this," he said.