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School board debates alternate calendar for North Rowan High

SALISBURY — The conversation got hung up on a proposed calendar for North Rowan High School on Monday at a meeting of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education.

Eisa Cox, director of secondary education, and North Rowan Principal Meredith Williams made their proposal at the board’s monthly business meeting.

North Rowan, Cox explained, has one of the highest percentages of students in the district who are dual-enrolled in college courses. As a restart school, North Rowan not only has calendar flexibility but administrators can custom-build a plan of improvement. Cox said the school would focus on increasing some of the positives it already has.

“And one of those things is increasing dual credit with Rowan-Cabarrus Community College,” she said

The proposed calendar would follow the college’s schedule, with students starting classes on Aug. 1 and finishing up the year before other district schools. Exams would be given before Christmas break.

“We just think this is going to be a really healthy calendar for our students,” Williams said.

Board member Travis Allen asked if the school had had any input from parents and the community on the issue.

Williams said she sent out two surveys and held a community meeting.

“And throughout all of those, the results were about the same,” she said.

Roughly 60 percent of those who responded were in favor of the new calendar, while about 40 percent had concerns.

But further questioning revealed that the surveys and community night both had low responses. The board paused the discussion to allow Corinne Mauldin, a former teacher at North Rowan High School, to speak.

“I have some concerns about this calendar. I do not think it is right for this community,” Mauldin said.

Mauldin read from a series of emails she said she received from teachers and residents citing concerns about parents with students at multiple schools, the potential to limit teachers’ ability to collaborate districtwide and the way the proposal had been handled.

“How is this fair and equitable for students at North Rowan High School?” she said of the possible complications.

Mauldin said the community needs a proper presentation where people could air their concerns.

After further discussion, board members clarified that North Rowan High would be the only North Rowan school to have a different calendar.

“If we’re going to make some changes in our district, we have to either do everything the same or allow some schools to do something different — which can sometimes be uncomfortable,” board Chairman Josh Wagner said.

Other board members spoke out against the calendar change for a single school and asked for time to mull things over and inform the community.

“I would like a little while longer to look at it. … I would prefer all North Rowan schools to go to that if we’re going to change the calendar,” Allen said.

Board member Richard Miller said he is in favor of the calendar. A similar one worked well at Rowan County Early College, which Miller called the “shining star” of the district.

“It’s been one of the best successes in this state,” he said. “… And if there’s a little bit of that we can replicate at our high schools … we need to give it the benefit of the doubt.”

The board chose to postpone taking any action until its May 14 meeting. In the meantime, North Rowan High School will host a community meeting to discuss the calendar proposal at 6 p.m. May 1 at the school.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264. 

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