School scheduling limits explained

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 24, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
The chairman of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education said he has a solution to the calendar complaints the school system has received since students missed five days of school, forcing them to head to class Saturday and Good Friday.
“Anybody that is upset about the way that they are doing things I have offered them a slot on your committee,” Dr. Jim Emerson said to Colby Cochran, the district’s director of assessments and accountability Monday.
That committee is the school calendar committee, which Cochran has chaired since 1984.
Cochran said the committee, comprised by about 40 people each year, consists of bus drivers, secretaries, teachers, parents, administrators and students.
“Everybody is represented,” he said.
Cochran gave what he called “a little lesson in calendar 101,” during Monday’s school board meeting.
“In order to help out public understand the restraints that we have and the laws we are governed by, I would like to go through the school calendar law,” he said. “Limitations apply when developing a school calendar.”
Cochran went over the state-mandated calendar requirements, which include:
• Classes shall not be held on Sundays.
• Veteran’s Day shall be holiday for all public school personnel and students.
• The total number of teacher workdays shall not exceed 195 days.
• The calendar shall include at least 42 consecutive days when teachers are required to attend.
• The calendar shall consist of 215 days.
• The calendar shall include a minium of 180 days and 1,000 hours of class for students.
• School shall not begin before Aug. 25 or end after June 10.
• A minimum of 10 annual leave vacation days.
• And equivalent number of legal holidays occurring as designated by the State Personnel Commission.
“Note ‘shall’ means it’s not open for debate or discussion,” Cochran said.
Students can also receive two excused absents each year for religious services.
“It really is not as simple as people who write in to the paper seem to think it is,” Superintendent Dr. Judy Grissom said.
Cochran said charter schools are exempt from the state’s school calendar law.
The five days students missed Jan. 10-15 has left the school system with few options if inclement weather strikes again.
Cochran said people on the calendar committee want to “protect spring break at all cost,” so the school system has worked to find other options.
“In order to try to think ahead and give everybody fair warning we have designated three more possible Saturdays should we have more snow,” Cochran said.
Those Saturdays are Feb. 12, March 12 and April 9.
“Our public has come to expect that as soon as we miss a day that we will immediately announce when that day will be made up, and unfortunately, that creates a challenge” Cochran said.
Cochran noted when a notice seeking input about the school calendar ran in an Oct. 17 edition of the Post he received no feedback.
“No one e-mailed, mailed, voicemailed or had any input …,” he said.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.