Schools seek calendar help

Catawba County school systems may again receive a scheduling break from the state.

For the second straight year, the N.C. Department of Instruction will require school districts across the state to set 185-day student calendars, an increase of five days from previous 180-day schedules.

Last year, the state allowed all 115 districts to use the extra five days as teacher workdays instead of student instruction. The state originally said it would require 185 days of student instruction this year, but Newton-Conover City Schools (NCCS) officials said they learned recently they can waive one to five of the additional days.

The NCCS Board of Education decided this week to request that the state allow the district to use three of the additional five days for teacher workdays and two of the days for student instruction.

"We still need training time for the new Common Core curriculum requirements," Superintendent Dr. Barry Redmond told the school board Monday night. "We have to let (the state) know what we want to do (Tuesday)."

Redmond and Glenn Barger, superintendent of Catawba County Schools (CCS), said in October that extra instructional days are positive for students, but they create extra costs to operate facilities and buses at a time when budgets are already tight.

Sylvia White, the NCCS director of personnel, said she met this week with CCS and Hickory Public Schools (HPS) leaders about creating calendars with common dates for the systems. The systems plan for students to begin the 2012-13 school year on Aug. 27.

"It's very difficult to build this calendar," White told the board.

"With the timeframe, it looks like a lot of days (in school) after workdays."

CCS officials said Tuesday they will make the same waiver request as NCCS. The county system hopes to use three of the additional five days for teacher development and two of the days for student instruction.

CCS officials said school districts must send a proposed calendar to the state when asking for a waiver.

HPS has asked the state for a waiver for five days. The system will await state approval to determine how many of the five additional days to use for teacher development and student instruction, said Beverly Snowden, public information officer for the system.

The state is expected to decide in December on waiver approval for school systems.