Chatham School board

Year-round school found not feasible in Siler City, study finds


PITTSBORO — Results of a study examining the possibility of a year-round school model for three Siler City schools feeding into Jordan-Matthews High School was presented before the school board Monday night.

The potential year-round model would provide an alternative to the traditional school calendar by providing nine weeks of instruction and three-week breaks throughout the year instead of the traditional long summer breaks and shorter winter and spring breaks.

Some studies from education consulting groups have shown the year-round model can mitigate summer learning loss and reduce staff and teacher fatigue in schools. Chatham County Schools examined the idea after being approached by principals in the Siler City area about the possibility prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Chatham County Schools studied this potential calendar for Siler City Elementary, Virginia Cross Elementary and Chatham Middle School. CCS launched a feasibility study, which collaborated with education consultants Research Triangle Institute to determine if the Siler City community members, school staff and organizational partners could support the year-round model.

Dr. Amanda Moran, CCS assistant superintendent for academic services, presented the study to the board during its monthly meeting Monday, the first such meeting at the new CCS Central Services Building on Renaissance Drive in Pittsboro. 

The study concluded that the year-round model was not feasible in Siler City, primarily due to understaffing at community partner organizations and lack of community support. 

Below is a copy of the full presentation provided to the school board on Monday regarding the year-round calendar feasibility study in Siler City:

According to a community survey conducted during the study, which received more than 550 responses from parents and residents, 47.8% of the community would not support the year-round model in Siler City. While a majority of respondents, 55.2% said they would support the model, other factors weighed into the feasibility study.

One such factor was childcare needs changes due to calendar shifts. The community survey asked if parents would need child care assistance, which 41.3% said they would need. Community partners — including the local YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Carolina, Communities In Schools of Chatham County and Hispanic Liaison — would help with childcare, but staffing issues at those partnerships has been an issue. Some of those partners reported to CCS that they may not have the necessary staff to support childcare needs, based on the community survey. 

After presenting the findings to the school board Monday night, Superintendent Dr. Anthony Jackson and other school board members agreed that the threshold of support would need to be close to 70-80% approval for the district to move forward with the year-round model. 

He said, however, year-round school is something he would like to continue to explore because it provides options for families in the area. According to Jackson, Chatham County is the only school in the surrounding area without a public year-round school option.

“If I’m thinking about moving my family here and I want year-round, well part of that decision has already been made for me,” Jackson said. “I think it’s about giving our families, and future families, options in the Chatham school system.”

As the district anticipates future growth, Moran told the board that consultants recommended the school board consider further study of innovative school models to include year-round calendar, magnet, or choice schools for staff and families. No official action was taken on this item.

Other business

• The school board approved official commencement dates for the 2023 school year. Graduation dates are as follows: Chatham School of Science and Engineering: 7 p.m., Tuesday, May 23, at the Agriculture & Conference Center (Pittsboro). Northwood High School: 10 a.m, Friday, June 9, at the Northwood Football Stadium. Chatham Central High School: 7 p.m., Friday, June 9, at the CCHS Football Stadium. Jordan-Matthews High School: 10 a.m., Saturday, June 10, at the J-M Football Stadium.

• Eight CCS students were chosen to attend N.C. Governor’s School this summer. The four-week summer residential program is for gifted and talented high school students, integrating academic disciplines, the arts and unique courses. The curriculum focuses on the exploration of the most recent ideas and concepts in each discipline, and does not involve credit, tests or grades. The CCS students attending are Marissa Kurz, Rokia Sissoko, and Christian Smith Pumalpa from Northwood High School; Andrey Ureña-Secena, Jacqueline Basilio, and Brooklin Quee from Jordan-Matthews High School; and Estafani Merdia Lopez and Sara Turner from the Chatham School of Science and Engineering. 

• Seaforth High School sophomore Kyle Stinson presented an update on his Student Leadership Academy. Stinson developed a curriculum for elementary school students to develop leadership skills. He told the school board the program yielded positive results, with students feeling empowered and excited. 

“I expected to learn about how to be a leader, but I did not expect it to be this fun,” one student testimony from the program said. 

Stinson said he would continue to develop the program during his next two years at Seaforth to continue helping students. 

• The board unanimously approved a new universal free breakfast program across CCS. This means breakfast will now be available for free to all students. The change does result in a $0.50 increase in daily lunch costs, to a total of $4. This will result in savings of $250 per year, per student if they participate in both meal services daily. Additionally, student meal debt will decrease across the district as a result of this change. CCS Chief Financial Officer Tony Messer said the change would result in some lost revenues, but the benefit to students’ health and wellbeing far outweighs the cost. 

The next Chatham Board of Education meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday, June 3, at the CCS Central Services Board Room in Pittsboro located at 468 Renaissance Drive.

Reporter Ben Rappaport can be reached at or on Twitter @b_rappaport

Chatham School Board, Chatham County Schools, Siler City, year-round school, Kyle Stinson, Governor's School