Monday night, the Macon County Board of Education approved calendars for next school you that adhered to state laws dictating local calendars and utilized feedback from teachers and district administration.
Macon County approved calendars for next school year to the best of their ability. The calendars have teachers returning to the classroom after the summer break on August 14 for the first teacher workday. The first day for students in both Highlands and Franklin will be on August 28th.
The approved calendars include the required 215 days within both calendars as well as 169 instructional days for students which equates to 1064.7 hours of instruction. The state requirement is for districts to produce calendars with 185 hours of instruction time or 1025 hours. There are 194 teacher days, just one shy of the state’s 195 maximum, and includes 11 holidays. The calendars also feature 10 leave days for teachers — state law has a 10-day minimum — and 25 workdays built into the calendar. While only nine workdays are required by state law, the workdays built into the calendar are used to accommodate weather delays and other issues that may arise throughout the school year.
Highlands will begin their Thanksgiving/Fall break on November 20th, giving Highlands students a full week out of school for the break. Franklin area students which includes all schools in the Franklin area with the exception of Macon Early College will begin their Thanksgiving break on November 22.
Both Highlands and Franklin area schools will begin the Winter/Christmas break on December 22, which will also be the end of the second nine weeks. An important accomplishment for both Highlands and Franklin in the approved calendars is the fact that end-of-course testing is able to be completed before students leave for winter break. That way, high school students are able to take end-of-course tests while the information is fresh on their minds, rather than after a long month break.
Students will return for the Spring semester on January 8 in both Highlands and Franklin with both areas coordinating the spring break holiday to be the same — the first week in April.
The school year will end for students on May 24 with the last teacher workday being scheduled for June 7.
Macon County Schools Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin said that the district’s calendars are in compliance with current state laws — however as is the case every year, there is a discussion that the state laws surrounding the calendar may change. While Macon County’s calendars are in compliance with state law, not all districts in North Carolina follow suit. Union County North Carolina announced this week that they will be defying state law this year by starting school on August 9, ahead of the state law which mandates that “start dates [are] no earlier than the Monday closest to August 26. If a waiver is approved the start date can be no earlier than the Monday closest to August 19.
Year after year bills get filed in the legislation to return control of school calendars to individual districts, however, lobbyists have prevented them from amounting to anything. Most local districts, Macon County included, want to be able to align their school calendars with local community colleges. For schools like Macon Early College, which have students who are dual enrolled, having the calendars aligned would provide consistency. Senator Kevin Corbin said he intends to introduce legislation this year tone again attempt to address these issues — and expects lobbying groups to challenge the legislation.