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School system will dismiss early for Southern Rowan Christmas Parade

EAST SPENCER — Event organizers won’t have to worry about school dismissal times when the Southern Rowan Christmas Parade rolls through China Grove and Landis this year.

The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education on Monday unanimously voted to release the entire system early on the day of the parade. Exact release times for individual schools will be dependent on bus schedules. Some discussion during Monday’s work session at the school system’s office in East Spencer questioned whether releasing all schools at the same time would cause transportation problems.

School Board Chairman Josh Wagner said exact release times would be decided during the regularly scheduled business meeting, set for Sept. 28 at 5 p.m.

During last year’s parade, China Grove and Landis officials successfully advocated for the school system to release students in time for the parade. It was unclear before Monday’s vote whether the system would release students early for the 2015 Southern Rowan Christmas Parade.

Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody during Monday’s meeting expressed opposition to the idea of letting schools out early for the Southern Rowan Christmas Parade.

“My position has been at some point you have to lay the expectation that instructional time is extremely important,” Moody said.

School board member Jean Kennedy and Vice Chairman Dean Hunter were the two most vocal advocates for early dismissal. Hunter argued that early dismissal for the parade wouldn’t significantly affect the quality of education in the Rowan-Salisbury School System.

“If it were my decision, I would be for tradition,” Hunter said. “I don’t think it would make a good argument that 20, 30 or 50 years of tradition is the reason that test scores are low.”

Kennedy said she believes firmly in quality education, but questioned whether students would learn a significant amount of new information on the day of the parade.

“How much learning are those children going to have on that day anyway when they’re looking forward to the parade,” Kennedy asked.

Responding to comments made by board members, Moody said she didn’t have a problem with the school board recommending an early dismissal.

“You are the ones that set the calendar,” Moody said to the school board. “I recommend the calendar, but you approve it. … I brought it up because I wanted you to know the stance I had taken, and if you decide to do something different I’ll respect that.”

The school board had initially considered early dismissal for only schools in the southern portion of Rowan for the 2015 parade. Multiple board members mentioned that students and staff in other area schools participate in the parade. Shortly after, releasing the entire system early for the parade became the topic of discussion.

Board member Richard Miller motioned that the entire system be released early for the parade. Board member Chuck Hughes seconded Miller’s motion. It passed without opposition.

When contacted after Monday’s school board meeting, China Grove Mayor Don Bringle said the school board’s vote was “great news” for the Southern Rowan Christmas Parade tradition.

“Without the kids, there wouldn’t be a parade,” Bringle said.

Last year, close to 100 floats, cars and walking groups took part in the parade. It starts in Landis each year and ends in China Grove.

He said dismissal times have been an issue because it quickly becomes dark after the parade wraps up its route. A lack of daylight poses problems for small children as they’re offloading from parade floats.

Exact details for the parade haven’t yet been finalized, he said. Initial plans, however, were to have the parade at 4 p.m. because of an uncertainty surrounding school release times. Bringle said the parade may occur at 3 p.m. — the same time as last year — as a result of the guaranteed early dismissal times.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.




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