7/30/11 School system won’t have to add five days

School system won’t have to add five days
By Mike Wilder The Times-News 7/30/11     
Reprinted with permission.

 The Alamance-Burlington School System won’t add five additional student-instruction days to the 2011-12 school year.

 The system received a waiver from the state that allows it to use the days instead to train teachers. Five days that had been teacher workdays will become staff development days to educate teachers about new statewide instructional standards that go into place in 2012-13. Minus the waiver, the five teacher workdays would have been used to add five class days for students.

 After the N.C. General Assembly added five instructional days to what had been a 180-day year for students, the N.C. Board of Education gave the state superintendent authority to approve waivers for school systems wanting to use the days to prepare for the new academic standards. Legislation adding the five student days had allowed for waivers if approved by the state education board.

 The waiver does not apply beyond the 2011-12 school year.

 Vanessa Jeter, a spokeswoman for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, said each of the state’s school systems applied for a waiver, along with 75 of the state’s 99 charter schools currently in operation. On Friday, Jeter was unaware of any system being denied a waiver, but said the state is still reviewing some requests to be sure requirements are met.

 For Alamance-Burlington schools on the traditional calendar, these teacher workdays will become staff development days: Aug. 23, Oct. 31, Jan. 20, Feb. 20 and March 12.

 For schools on the year round calendar, these teacher workdays will become staff development days: Aug. 19, Sept. 26, Jan. 3, Feb. 17 and March 5.

 For the Alamance-Burlington Middle College, these teacher workdays will become staff development days: Oct. 10, Dec. 19, Jan. 4, Feb. 20 and March 12.

 The state’s new standards are known as the common core/essential standards. They are part of a move toward students in different states receiving the same level of instruction.

 While more student instruction days would bring costs associated with more days of bus transportation and cafeteria service, neither board members nor system administrators have said they oppose having students in school longer. Some have said added days are a needed move in the right direction.

 School board members and system administrators have said adding five student days during 2011-12 would have been difficult because the calendar for the year was in place well before the provision became law.