Wake County Schools

Thousands sign petition to save Wake schools spring break

Posted March 8, 2015
Updated March 9, 2015

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— Citing long-standing plans and lost vacation deposits, more than 5,000 people had signed an online petition posted in protest of the plan, announced Saturday, to make up snow days during spring break.

The Wake County Board of Education, scrambling to make up eight instructional days lost to snow and ice in February, first told families that spring break, scheduled for the week beginning Monday, March 23, would be safe.

At their Tuesday meeting, the school board decided to make up most of the time using so-called "banked hours" that students accumulate by attending class beyond North Carolina's required minimum.

That left three days, and board members designated April 3 and two Saturdays to be named later as the makeup days.

That was enough for Vickie Nizen of Apex.

"Of course my kids weren’t happy with it, but that was the schedule, and we were fine with that," she said. ​"I went ahead and booked my plans for spring break vacation on the beach."

On Saturday, under criticism of the decision to make students attend class on Good Friday and on weekends, the board changed course and brought spring break into play.

"Bait and switch," Nizen called it.

@WCPSS: Spring Break is safe

"I have got two seniors and a freshman at school. My freshman is going to miss three days of class," she said. "You know how it is once you make beach reservations, especially when you're two weeks out. You can’t make those changes."

About 100,000 students on traditional calendars are affected by the change, which makes Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of spring break full class days.

Among those students is Millbrook senior Erin Baker, who, her father said, started the petition in hopes her birthday party can be saved.

Erin asked her parents for a beach getaway with 10 friends to celebrate her 18th birthday, which coincides with the Saturday after spring break. Now, Steve Baker said, his daughter doesn't know how many of those friends will be allowed to spend the week with her.

“We recognize many parents make plans for spring break,” said Christine Kushner, school board chairwoman. “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.”

Parents cited those plans and the short notice in comments left on the Change.org petition.

"2 weeks notice is disrespectful. I understand there probably isn't a great answer. The state needs to change its law regarding school year dates. Teachers needed to be treated better," wrote Kathy Glidden.

"When WCPSS informed us that 'Spring Break is safe,' we confirmed our vacation plans. Now we either have our kids miss school or we lose our deposit," Roger Wilson wrote.

Throughout the makeup day debate, parents have questioned the board's need to step in, noting that the published school calendar provides for four makeup days – on March 23, June 9 through 11. Those days are listed as teacher work days available for weather makeup.

"Why (is) just following the calendar is so hard," William Lu wrote. "Does the school system have an obligation to follow its own calendar?"

School system spokeswoman Lisa Luten said those days are "not ideal" because teachers use them to finish up administrative tasks like turning in grades.

Two days previously scheduled to be early-release days for traditional-calendar students – Friday, March 6 and Friday, April 17 – will now be full days.

“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. “It’s a tough situation for everyone – teachers, parents and students – and we are trying to make the best of it.”

Nizen sees the whole mess as a learning opportunity for district leaders.

"I'm just hoping that Wake County can learn from this – that either they don't need to make an announcement so quick or that once they make an announcement they stick to that announcement," she said.

As for her family of seven, they'll be spending spring break at the beach.

The school system on Saturday also announced its final makeup day plans for the 50,000 students who attend schools on non-traditional calendars. Those schools can recover the time using a combination of Saturday classes already scheduled as make up days and by replacing teacher workdays with regular classroom lessons, school system officials said.

Full Wake County Public School System makeup day schedules for all calendars:

Traditional-Calendar:
Friday, March 6 – This early release day is extended to a full day
Friday, April 17 – This early release day is extended to a full day
Monday, March 23 – Schools will operate on a normal weekday schedule
Tuesday, March 24 – Schools will operate on a normal weekday schedule
Wednesday, March 25 – Schools will operate on a normal weekday schedule

Year-Round, Track 1:
Friday, March 6 – This early release day is extended to a full day
Friday, April 17 – This early release day is extended to a full day
Saturday, May 16 – Schools will operate on a half-day schedule
Saturday, May 30 – Schools will operate on a normal weekday schedule

Year-Round, Track 2:
Friday, April 17 – This early release day is extended to a full day

Year-Round, Track 3:
Friday, March 6 – This early release day is extended to a full day
Friday, April 17 – This early release day is extended to a full day
Saturday, May 16 – Schools will operate on a half-day schedule
Saturday, May 30 – Schools will operate on a normal weekday schedule

Year-Round, Track 4:
Friday, March 6 – This early release day is extended to a full day
Saturday, May 16 – Schools will operate on a half-day schedule
Saturday, May 30 – Schools will operate on a normal weekday schedule

Single Track Year-Round Schools with Track 4 Only
Friday, March 6 - This early release day is extended to a full day
Saturday, May 16 – Schools will operate on a half-day schedule
Saturday, May 30 – Schools will operate on a normal weekday schedule

Modified-Calendar Schools:
Friday, March 6 – This early release day is extended to a full day
Friday, April 17 – This early release day is extended to a full day
Monday, June 1 – Schools will operate on a normal weekday schedule
Tuesday, June 2 – Schools will operate on a normal weekday schedule

WECHS and VMCCA:
Friday, March 6 – This early release day is extended to a full day
Friday, April 17 – This early release day is extended to a full day
Thursday, April 2 – Workday becomes normal school day
Thursday, May 28 – Workday becomes normal school day
Friday, May 29 – Workday becomes normal school day

WAKE STEM:
Friday, March 6 – This early release day is extended to a full day
Friday, April 17 – This early release day is extended to a full day
Thursday, April 2 – Workday becomes normal school day
Friday, May 1 – Workday becomes normal school day
Friday, May 22 – Workday becomes normal school day

WYMLA and WYWLA:
Friday, March 6 – This early release day is extended to a full day
Friday, April 17 – This early release day is extended to a full day
Friday, March 13 -- Workday becomes normal school day
Thursday, May 28 – Workday becomes normal school day
Friday, May 29 – Workday becomes normal school day

47 Comments

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  • Derric Fuller Mar 10, 2015
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    They already had a very nice "winter break" with two weeks out for "snow" (supposed black ice) days. These kids are spoiled.

  • Phil Larson Mar 9, 2015
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    View quoted thread


    After guess what I thought you were gonna say "and we liked it!".

  • Tammy Rhodes Mar 9, 2015
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    I feel that no matter what days are chosen for make up, some are not going to be happy. I feel that since they basically had off almost 2 weeks for snow/ice then making up 3 days of spring break is ok. If they chose the Good Friday/Saturdays then parents would argue that. They HAVE to chose make up days so I will send mu child when ever they chose and I will suck it up and move on. Life is too short for all the complaints and worrying.

  • Ronnie Reams Mar 9, 2015
    user avatar

    I would say go to school if nothing better planned. Otherwise go to the planned event. I do not even think that WCPSS has truant officers to run down those that skip school anyhow.

  • Kaitlyn Legare Mar 9, 2015
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    View quoted thread



    It's great that your child has such a good attendance record. Unfortunately not all kids can be as perfect as yours. Some might have medical problems or issues that have kept them out of school through no fault of their own. I'm not sure I would be that proud of a child who thinks they know what's best for everyone else when they should be focused on their own education.

  • Todd Wright Mar 9, 2015
    user avatar

    "Struck a nerve!?"

    Nope not really. I just think it is funny that you are others actually think we need/ask for your parenting advice over the internet. So your kid makes you proud, go buy a bumper sticker as if anybody cares.

  • Jim Buchanan Mar 9, 2015
    user avatar

    Luckily, I have raised my kids to know the importance of an education vs missing school. My senior in HS said to me, "In my opinion, any student that accrues their 10th absence over spring break fails the grade no questions asked!" So proud!!

  • Jim Buchanan Mar 9, 2015
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    View quoted thread


    Struck a nerve!?

  • Janni Cone Mar 9, 2015
    user avatar

    Making an announcement and then bowing to pressure and undoing that announcement almost always fails. This would be one of those times. Make decision based on best interest of education and costs, take your lumps, and stick to it. No one likes a waffler. Except on Sunday mornings for breakfast.

  • Deidre Hinkle Mar 9, 2015
    user avatar

    (continued comment) of summer. I can tell you personally, our family does not take our yearly vacation in the summer for a number of reasons. One, when you have older teens, they generally have a job, or an internship in the summer. Two, many places are just too hot that time of year. The tourism industry needs to probably look at the revenue value of spring break a little higher than one summer week.

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