Wake County Schools

Spring break makeup days cause backlash, ire from Wake parents

Posted March 9, 2015

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— 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.

More than 7,000 people signed an online petition asking the school system to reconsider using March 23-25, the first three days of the district’s spring break, as makeup days.

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.

@WCPSS: Spring Break is safe

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.”


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  • Pam Snyder Mar 10, 2015
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    yes we are no matter what.......education is very important but so is saying goodbye to their only great grandma. No beach trip planned here.......

  • Julie Teeter Mar 10, 2015
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    If I thought and/or had proof that my son were receiving a quality education, I might cancel our plans....alas, this is sadly not the case--two, missed days will not hurt his future, nor have any ill-effect on his ability to obtain entrance into any college of his choosing.

  • Betsy Stewart Mar 10, 2015
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    If parents whined more about common core or benchmark testing, I would respect them more but to continue to whine about spring break...GET OVER IT!

  • Jack Joyner Mar 10, 2015
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    Again, I wish that no child nor teenager would have to make up days on a spring break, but going to school should be instilled in the children that it is like a job. You miss days, you have to make them up. If the parents instill the thought that going to school is just the same as going to the job everyday, they'll get a more clear understanding. As I mentioned in my earlier post, School is not a babysitting service, a day care center, a summer camp, and we the taxpayers shouldn't be paying taxes (required by law) on education, where we have to support kids whom we don't know nor are related to. We are not the cruise directors for their personal lives either. I know it is difficult to accept when those plans are made, but nothing should be changed. It wasn't changed when I went to school in the 70's and 80's. And the idea of taking homework with you when you are on break? My foot, like that is gonna happen..

  • Jack Joyner Mar 10, 2015
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    I don't wish wish for the kids to miss their spring break due to the snow days. I understand that plans and events have been made by the parents and the children. The day's have to be made up, there should be no argument, and no negotiation to those facts. They have to be made up. Didn't the kids just have Christmas break just a short time ago? No one expected the snow to cancel nor postpone school, but things happen, and parents have to deal with the decisions that come down from the school system. I had to make up school days on Saturday's and in some cases, other days that were supposed to be off days. What's different today than it was 35-40 years ago for the present adults?

    Now, I pay property taxes each and every year, and the majority of every dollar I pay in property taxes goes to education. I have to pay taxes to support children in schools whom I do not know. School is not a baby sitting service or a summer camp. The taxpayers are not cruise directors either.

  • Kim Singleton Mar 10, 2015
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    Respectfully, sir, I have seen no comments requesting coddling, nor have I read any comments blaming the School Board for the weather. I am simply stating the obvious, and I can't see why this has become such a controversial statement: that the Board went against its own calendar published for all to see, unnecessarily causing chaos and discord among the community, when there were still days on the calender expressly set aside for make-up. I appreciate that you and all taxpayers help fund my children's education. I expect no coddling. I merely expect transparency and consistency from our elected School Board officials. My how naive I was. For me, this debate is over and plans are set. Looking forward to the next round of School Board elections.

  • Charles Ratliff Mar 10, 2015
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    Ms. Singleton, the school board is not in control of the weather. The parents are not in control of the school board. The people I know who are parents are frequently so self absorbed about their particular "hobby" that they think the world should stand still for them. When I say "hobby" madam, I mean your children, as that is what they are, simply a very expensive hobby that the rest of us are forced to pay taxes to educate and coddle.

  • Fred Garner Mar 10, 2015
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    Wake County uses no common sense. Do like Lee County: add 15 minutes on to each day for the remainder of the year. And then make half days whole days.

    Problem solved.....AND Easter Break wasn't touched.

  • Angie Cox Mar 10, 2015
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    I can see what's wrong with this generation of young kids now - their parents! grow up, stop complaining. plans can be changed. education should be your first priority for your kids! geez!

  • Heather Bruno Mar 10, 2015
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    I dont understand this huge deal about spring break. I understand that family's are mad about vacation deposits that are nonrefundable, I get that, I would be upset too. But it isnt required for them to go that day if its that big of a deal. Why dont they just ask to send the child's work home and they can do it on vacation or something. I did sign the petition though.