Spring break makeup days cause backlash, ire from Wake parents
Posted March 9, 2015
Cary, N.C. — Wake County parents and students are, once again, upset at a decision by the Wake County Public School System to makeup missed school days due to recent snow storms.
Doing so will disrupt many pre-scheduled plans, parents and students wrote on the petition.
“My family carefully made plans for spring break considering possible make up days, which did not include March 24 and 25 on the school calendar,” wrote Kim Singleton of Raleigh. “Excused absences will not help my son in his college prep classes make up lost time. We followed the calendar, and now that the school board is going back on its word, we will either have to forfeit thousands of dollars to change plans to stay home so our son won't fall behind, or we can just go and know he'll have scramble and perhaps miss out on course content. Families should not have to make these decisions at this late date.”
District officials said Monday that students and staff will not be penalized for missing those days, and that they’re working to ensure teachers will not be punished for missing work. Seniors with exam exemptions – those with good grades who have missed less than three days of school – will not have their exempt status changed if they miss spring break classes. Teachers with spring break plans will not have to pay the $50 fee for their substitute teacher, school officials said.
“We recognize many parents make plans for spring break,” school board Chairwoman Christine Kushner said in a statement on Saturday. “But we also appreciate many more children will be right here at home and could take advantage of the only available stretch of quality instructional time left on this year’s calendar. We trust parents will make the best decisions for their families.”
The decision, announced on Saturday, comes after the district boasted on its Twitter account that makeup days would not include spring break. School board members originally planned to use two Saturdays, one in April and another in May, along with Good Friday, to makeup snow days from Feb. 25-27.
District leaders wouldn’t say Monday if the social media message was sent in error, or should not have been sent at all. In response, they said the district will review their communications efforts and look for areas of improvement.
"I will readily say that we need to take a look at both our processes and our messaging to make sure that we are providing greater level of consistency for our families," said Cathy Moore, the district's deputy superintendent for school performance.
Making up snow dates has been a headache for the district in recent weeks. Monday’s backlash comes one week after parents and students took to social media to voice their frustrations over an initial plan to use Good Friday as a makeup day.
“If people had problems with the make-up days of Good Friday and (two) Saturdays, likely they would miss one day,” wrote Mark Nordberg of Apex. “If they have spring break plans they will miss (three) so there is a bigger impact. (Three) distributed makeup days means fewer people would miss all (three) make up days. Plus make up days in April and May are easier to plan for than (a two) week notice. Also, more people are going to be "around" on a normal weekend than would be over a scheduled vacation week.”
Wake schools previously announced that students will attend a full day of school on March 6 and April 17, both former early-release days, to makeup snow days from Feb. 17-20.
The district’s traditional calendar – created two years in advance – lists June 9-11 as makeup dates. Officials said when they used last year’s June make-up dates, they didn’t work because state tests were already given and seniors had already graduated. School officials added that they will reevaluate makeup dates for next school year.
“Our students have lost a huge amount of time in the past month, and there just aren’t any good options left for recovering that much instruction,” Superintendent Jim Merrill said in a statement on Saturday. “It’s a tough situation for everyone – teachers, parents and students – and we are trying to make the best of it.”