Board of Education offers alternative to extra school days

Posted June 24, 2011 3:12 p.m. EDT
Updated November 30, 2011 5:02 p.m. EST

In a special meeting Friday, the State Board of Education unanimously approved an option allowing school systems to use the newly added five days on the academic calendar for core teacher training instead of class time. 

The General Assembly added the five days to the school year as part of the 2011-12 state budget. 

The waiver will allow systems to use all of the days as teacher workdays if needed. 

"This is an effort on our part to be sensitive to the positions the school districts find themselves in right now," State Board of Education chairman Bill Harrison said. 

The board also decided to consider other reasons or ways for schools to opt out, including a proposal by the Wake County Board of Education to extend the school day next year by 10 minutes. 

Instead of adding days, the district wanted to start classes five minutes earlier and end five minutes later each day to compensate.

Wake schools' chief business officer, David Neter, said the extra five days would cost the financially strapped school system more than $500,000 to operate buses. In addition, he said, it would mean that all four tracks of year-round schools would be in class on certain days of the school year.

Harrison said Wake schools' proposal seems reasonable. 

"What he would need to do would be to demonstrate to us how he's going to use those dollars to increase student achievement and I suspect we would grant the waiver," Harrison said. 

It was unclear Friday whether Wake schools would take the teacher workday option instead of creating longer school days. 

Harrison said he and others are in favor of a longer school year, and any exemptions will only be for 2011-12 because of the short notice.

"We'll probably be a little less flexible next year than we are this year," Harrison said. 

The State Board of Education asked school systems to submit waiver requests for anything beyond teacher training by July 7.