Local News

Longer Summer For Students Might Cause Logistical Problems

Posted January 5, 2005 4:46 a.m. EST

— Summer 2005 will be like an old-fashioned summer for North Carolina students -- it will be long.

This is the first year for a new law in which students can't return to school until after Aug. 25 and must be released for summer break no later than June 10.

The goal of the new attendance dates is to boost tourism across the state.

But, not everyone agrees the change is best for education.

Some school superintendents told the State School Board it will create a hardship -- especially when coordinating transportation for schools on different schedules within one district.

"You're extending your bus system by about six weeks," said Jeffrey Moss, Beaufort County School superintendent. "You're extending your personnel by six weeks -- those that are shared from high school to middle school -- so there a lot of cost issues associated (and that's) not counting day-care issues parents will face if kids are on two schedules."

Already, 28 school districts and 77 individual schools are asking the state for waivers so they can set their own calendars.

"We will help them as much as we possibly can and certainly do not want any systems to lose money as a result of this," said Howard Lee, chairman of the state school board.

School superintendents are also very concerned about high school students who take classes at local community colleges.

They are now on different schedules.

"Our students are going to lose unless we can find some way in Martin County to come up with $100,000 to $200,000 of extra local resources to provide them with what we already had," said Tom Daly, Martin County school superintendent.

Lee said that he might go back to the Legislature with some issues.

"I think by going through this exercise we'll be able to go back to the Legislature and talk about how we're handling some of these cases and let them know what the implications have been as well," Lee said.

School leaders only hope it's not an exercise in futility.

State education officials are considering waivers for 16 school districts and 27 individual schools.

The board is expected to vote on the issue next month.