Local News

Local School System First To Challenge School Calendar Changes

Posted September 15, 2004 7:24 a.m. EDT

— Just when you thought the school calendar debate was over, one county wants more changes.

Edgecombe County is pressing the state for more flexibility in the schedule. It could be the first of a slew of challenges to the new law.

When the legislature passed a

law mandating public schools

start no earlier than Aug. 25 and end no later than June 10, school districts across the state were thrown into a race against the clock.

"We heard a lot of outcry from our neighboring districts when this legislation was passed," said Diane LeFiles of Edgecombe County Schools.

The school district is among the first to ask the state for an exemption to the law. They want to start high schools earlier than Aug. 25. so that students who want to take college courses can start after the first semester.

"In order to get those 90 days in before the winter break, we need to start the second week of August," LeFiles said.

This year, Edgecombe County Schools started on Aug. 4 -- too early, according to some parents.

"It leaves no vacation time. I think it should be expanded," parent Kimberly Sutton said.

Rep. Joe Tolson, D-Edgecombe County, voted against the law. He thinks local school districts should decide their own schedule. He support the request, but expects it will be an uphill battle.

"I think once you make one exception, you have to look at other exceptions coming," he said. "How can you say to one group, 'We're going to give you an exception,' and another county from right next door comes and asks for it and you say, 'No, you can't have it?'"

State education officials expect other school districts to challenge the new calendar. So far, none have filed papers.