Holiday break cut short

Published 7:50 pm Saturday, November 10, 2012

Thanksgiving break for students and teachers just got a little shorter.
The Beaufort County Schools Board of Education unanimously voted to hold classes Nov. 21 to make up for the day lost to Hurricane Sandy.
Beaufort County Schools Superintendent Don Phipps said the board had no other options.
“The only day we can even look at is the 21st. We only have seven days for Christmas day as it is,” he said.
Another possibility would be to take a day from spring break. Phipps discouraged doing so because the board did not know what winter would bring.
Some board members said parents might complain about the last-minute change interfering with trips that had already been booked.
“If they have plans, they will just pull them out of school anyway,” said board member Robert Belcher. “Having the day before Thanksgiving is only a recent phenomenon anyway.”
N.C. Senate Bill 187 made a few changes to school calendar requirements. One of the changes is in the required amount of instruction.
School calendars must have a minimum of 185 days or 1,025 hours over nine calendar months of instruction. Previously, both were required.
Another change was in the wording for the start of school. Instead of saying the opening date would not be before Aug. 25, the requirement is now that the opening date will “be no earlier than the Monday closest to Aug. 26.”
A similar closing date change was imposed. Instead of saying the closing date would not be after June 10, the new rule is no later than the Friday closest to June 11.
If the school board can show good cause and provide a sufficient number of anticipated make-up days, school systems can start a week earlier (the Monday closest to Aug. 19).
According to the bill, “good cause” means that schools have been closed eight days per year during any four of the last 10 years because of severe weather conditions, energy shortages, power failures or other emergencies.
The bill goes into effect July 1, 2013.
The new changes do not address issues the district has with graduating seniors. Phipps said the district would like to start school two to three weeks earlier so that seniors can attend any college of choice. As it is, some schools start class registration long before Beaufort County seniors have final grades.
Phipps said he would start mapping out next year’s calendar and have something for the board to look at its next meeting.