Surprise: School Calendar Flexibility Has Been “Shelved” Again This Year By NCGA

North Carolina is one of only one of 14 states that had state laws that governed school calendars?

school calendar

The above graphic is from the Feb. 2017 Final Report to the Joint Legislative
Program Evaluation Oversight Committee on school calendars.

What is also shows is that North Carolina was at the time was one of the TWO states in the entire country whose laws dictated when a school could start and when it had to end.

There was a chance for change on the horizon.

From a Feb, 2019 edition of the Winston-Salem Journal:

An N.C. House education committee on Tuesday began an effort that could allow North Carolina’s school systems more flexibility in planning school-year calendars.

The Education K-12 Committee held a nonvoting session during which its members discussed a controversial 2004 state law that prohibits public-school systems from opening before Aug. 26 and closing after June 10 without permission from the State Board of Education.

State Rep. Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth, estimates that more than 200 school-calendar bills have been submitted in the legislature in the past six years, with none of them clearing a committee because of stiff opposition from the state’s travel and tourism industry.

200 bills and none have made it past committee in a legislature that had a super-majority  in those six years because of opposition from another industry.

AND IT HAPPENED AGAIN THIS YEAR.

From a July 5th report from the Winston-Salem Journal:

Public schools statewide will retain their late-August opening dates after a House bill attempting to move up the schedule by a week was shelved in the state Senate.

Although that outcome was expected, the legislation did clear one chamber after similar bills have been dead-on-arrival at the General Assembly in recent years…

House Bill 79 would have allowed public school systems to align their calendars with local community colleges, which typically start a week earlier and not before Aug. 15.

The bill cleared the House by a 100-10 vote March 28.

However, HB79 was sent directly to the Senate Rules and Operations committee. That typically is a sign a key Senate Republican leader wanted the legislation on the back burner, if not to be heard at all.

“There is no chance (for HB79), as I believe the tourism industry has once again convinced legislators that starting school early would hurt tourism,” said Rep. Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth.

We need to have the ability as local school systems to be able to have exams done before the winter break instead of having the “fall” semester end the day before Groundhog Day.

We need to have the flexibility to not have to consider forgiving days of school because of weather and other natural occurrences.

We need to have the flexibility to allow for schools to plan for professional development and workdays that actually help teachers prepare.

We need to have flexibility to allow schools to not have to start classes until after two football games have been played.

A lot of high school students still have sports and other activities that bring them back routinely to their schools before the school year starts in early August.

And until the law is changed, students still will have to go to school 180 days a year.

Oddly, it is funny to think that the travel and tourism industry has this much power over our school calendars.