With All The Snow, NC Schools Consider How To Make Up Lost Time

Feb 25, 2015

Credit Carol Jackson / WUNC

Many North Carolina school districts will have to make some tough decisions on how to make up the recent snow days.

State law requires all public schools to have at least 1,025 instructional hours or 85 instructional days in their calendars. Most school districts have some snow days built into their calendars, so they don’t have to make up all of the lost time.

But for the days they do have to make up, school officials have several options, which include:

  • Converting early release days and teacher workdays to full days
  • Holding school during spring break
  • Extending the school year
  • Extending the length of school days
  • Holding school on Saturday
     

School districts are bound by certain start and end dates, dictated by state law. That adds an extra challenge, explains Scott Denton, Assistant Superintendent at Durham Public Schools. 

"There's not a lot of flexibility," he says. "It's a real-world example where the legislation forces us to do things that we wouldn't choose to do otherwise." 

But even extending the school year within the given time frame is not often a popular choice, says Alexis Shauss, Director of School Business Administration at the Department of Public Instruction.

“The extra days become lost instructional days because you already have the testing calendar in place, and graduations are going on,” she explained.

Wake County Public Schools announced on Monday that it would avoid cutting into spring break, but that may change given the cancelations this week.

“You want to try to recover time that’s meaningful,” explains spokesman Tim Simmons “But then there are other issues…everybody in the community is pretty sensitive to spring break, and, if possible, you don’t want to mess with spring break.”

School districts will likely modify their calendars in the coming days. In the meantime, Timmons says he’s “more sensitive to parents who have to figure out how to cover their schedules right now.”

“We’ll get the scheduling of the schools figured out.”