Local News

Parents, teachers mad about Wake makeup schedule

Posted March 4, 2009 5:45 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:13 p.m. EDT

Wake County Public School System

— Parents and teachers are upset that Wake County schools have scheduled class for the first two days of spring break to makeup days lost to recent snowstorms.

Traditional-calendar schools were supposed to be off the week of April 6, but they will now be in session April 6-7 because school was canceled on Jan. 20 and on Monday for inclement weather.

"It's disappointing they did this at the beginning of spring break," said Cindy Sinkez, whose daughter is a senior at Panther Creek High School.

The school's band plans to be in New York that week, and Sinkez said she's upset her daughter will have to miss two days of school.

"Missing any days messes up with her exams at the end of the school year," she said.

Tama Bouncer, vice president of the Wake County chapter of the North Carolina Association of Educators, said she has gotten calls and e-mails from teachers who are concerned, too.

"Some of the comments are basically about having already made plans to be out of town and having bought plane tickets," said Bouncer, a music teacher at Swift Creek Elementary School.

The school district is required by state law to have 180 class days each year, and there aren't many options left for scheduling makeup days, spokesman Michael Evans said.

"We have federal and state holidays (in the schedule). We have teacher-protected workdays. So, the ability for us to plan inclement weather days is limited," Evans said.

Wake schools have nine or 10 designated makeup days each year for inclement weather. Half of them are built into the first semester in the event of a hurricane, and the others are scheduled later in the year.

Saturdays aren't feasible for makeup days because district administrators feel it's too expensive and cumbersome to bus 138,000 students to and from school on a weekend, Evans said. There are no teacher workdays left in the year that aren't required by law, and the Save Our Summers Law, which was adopted a few years ago, mandates that the school year end by June 10, he said.

Still, parents and teachers said it's unfair to take away part of spring break.

"I kind of think that spring break needs to maintained as a week that kids get off," Sinkez said.

Teachers are contractually required to work those makeup days, and those with vacation plans likely will have to take a non-paid leave day or work something out with their principals. Bouncer said she hopes administrators take the circumstances of the schedule into consideration.

"What I would hope is that the principals would be willing to be flexible with those teachers who have made plans," she said.

Principals will likely count unexcused absences against students who miss the school days, unless families can convince their school principal their trips have an educational component or medical or emergency reason.

The district's calendar is set by a committee of administrators, parents and teachers, and the calendar for the 2009-10 school year also schedules three days of spring break as possible make-up days for inclement weather.