School board delays calendar change decision

BY ZACHARY HORNER, News + Record Staff
Posted 3/15/19

PITTSBORO — Hampered by concerns over survey clarity and teacher feedback, the Chatham County Board of Education decided to wait on solidifying the 2019-2020 school year calendar.

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School board delays calendar change decision

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PITTSBORO — Hampered by concerns over survey clarity and teacher feedback, the Chatham County Board of Education decided to wait on solidifying the 2019-2020 school year calendar.

The board had been considering altering the high school schedule to allow for first semester exams to take place before Christmas break, but members spoke Monday during a regular meeting about receiving comments from teachers explaining concerns over the change and how it might limit certain classes and cause logistical problems.

A recommendation by the district’s teacher advisory council brought two schedule possibilities before the board. Option A would keep the traditional calendar with nearly equal number of days in the first and second semester and the first semester ending in January. Option B would keep the traditional calendar for elementary and middle schools, while high schools would operate under a shorter first semester to allow first-semester final exams to be taken prior to Christmas break.

Justice Mansour, an English teacher at Northwood High School, spoke during the public comments section about a survey the district had sent out.

“I think most of us really didn’t think about the ramifications,” Mansour said. “Ideally we’d end before winter break, but the schedule doesn’t work out logistically. We’ve also heard that it would affect scheduling.”

She also expressed concerns about loading honors classes for high school students in the fall and Advanced Placement classes in the spring instead of spreading them out, saying that would create a heavier burden for students.

The debate comes as the N.C. General Assembly is considering several bills that would allow for calendar flexibility for Chatham County and the state as a whole. Multiple officials have said the state has been hearing demands from school districts while being lobbied by coastal counties that count on a later return to school for more tourism revenue.

“Unfortunately, it seems that our legislature is looking harder at our tourism industry lobby than they are our kids,” said board chair Gary Leonard. “We would love to have exams before (Christmas) but they don’t let us start earlier.”

So instead of taking a vote, which was a possibility Monday, they waited and will issue a new survey, a decision supported by District Superintendent Derrick Jordan.

“I, personally, from an instructional standpoint, had some concerns about the shorter semester,” Jordan said. “But I also realized that there are a number of reasons why people are in support of Option B. We want to provide as much information as possible so that the board can ultimately make the best decision.”


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