NHCS calendar recommendations head to board vote The New Hanover County Schools calendar committee discussing the 2024-2025 and 2025-2026 traditional school year calendars.
NEW HANOVER COUNTY — Two school year calendars have made it through the highly criticized process that has ensnared New Hanover County Schools’ calendars of years past. The board is set to vote on the options next week.
READ MORE: ‘The public is going to lynch us’: Tensions come to head over NHCS calendar
The calendar committee — made up of parents, teachers, administrators and one student representative — finalized its recommendations in early October. This is the first year the district is approving two traditional school calendars for the 2024-2025 and 2025-2026 in tandem.
Both have the first semester ending in January and push mid-year tests or high-school course exams after Christmas break.
This setup faced major opposition from parents when the committee was creating the 2023-2024 calendar. Back then, among three options discussed by the group, only one was configured to place exams before winter break; it violated state calendar law.
The rules state school can start no earlier than the Monday closest to Aug. 26. Where that Monday falls determines if the district must operate with plus or minus one week in the year. Seven days can be crucial when trying to give teachers helpful workdays while also promoting student retention in test-taking.
At the calendar meeting on Oct. 4, the committee favored teachers, focusing on scheduling adequate workdays to catch up throughout the semester.
One committee member did speak up in favor of starting earlier.
“Why can’t we start before the August 26?” French teacher Fatima Sail asked. “I know it’s a law, but the other 14 counties in North Carolina—”
Sail was cut off by Chief Academic Officer Patrice Faison.
“We’re not breaking the law,” Faison said.
This year 16 systems are operating with an illegal calendar. One committee member said they were being fined; Faison said they were being sued.
Union County Schools is facing a lawsuit from a business, though the other districts otherwise have not faced repercussions for flouting the law. The statute does not specify consequences.
Lawmakers, including Sen. Michael Lee (R-New Hanover County), have made attempts to strengthen the law; others have pushed for more flexibility, as requested by school districts like New Hanover County. The General Assembly did not make any changes to the law this session.
Board liaison to the committee, Stephanie Walker, said the school board had the option to break the law when approving the 2023-2024 calendar by choosing the committee’s recommendation that ended the first semester in December. It chose not to.
With no consideration of ending the first semester in December, this year’s calendar committee prioritized scheduling teacher workdays equally across the semester, avoiding long stretches without a break. The group was also mindful of religious holidays, making attempts to schedule undesignated workdays on those observances.
While exams in January could be a detriment to high school students, the district made an attempt to align its spring break with Cape Fear Community College to benefit dually enrolled students. A compromise wasn’t reached, but the college agreed to stagger class times for the 10 most popular courses among dual-enrollees. They will be able to start those courses after NHCS’s first semester ends, allowing for better alignment between schedules.
The proposed 2024-2025 calendar will begin on Tuesday, Aug. 27, with the preceding Monday acting as a teacher workday; the year will end on June 6. The first semester will end on Jan. 17. Teacher workdays include Yom Kippur on Oct. 11 and Día de Muertos on Nov. 1.
The proposed 2025-2026 calendar will begin on Tuesday, Aug. 26 and end on June 5. Teacher workdays will also cover Yom Kippur, Día de Muertos and Ramadan.
The full list of changes made by the committee, going to a vote on Nov. 7, are below.
August 16th Undesignated Teacher WorkdayAugust 26th Designated Teacher WorkdayFirst day of school, August 27thOct 11th Designated Teacher WorkdayOctober 30th and 31st became Student DaysNov 1st Designated Teacher WorkdayDecember 18th – 19th became Student DaysJan 2nd – 3rd Undesignated Teacher Workdays Jan 21st Designated Teacher WorkdayJan 22nd became a Student DayJan 17th End of SemesterFeb 10th Workday UndesignatedMarch 21st End of Grading PeriodMarch 24th Designated Teacher WorkdayApril 2nd became a Student DayLast day of school, June 6thJune 9th and 10th Designated Teacher Workday
August 15th Undesignated Teacher WorkdayAugust 25th Designated Teacher Workday August 26th First Day of SchoolOctober 2nd Designated Teacher WorkdayOctober 24th Student DayOctober 30th End of Grading PeriodOctober 31st Designated Teacher WorkdayDecember 18th Student DayJan 2nd Undesignated Teacher WorkdayFebruary 9th Undesignated Teacher WorkdayMarch 19th End of Grading PeriodMarch 27th Student DayMarch 30th Student DayApril 1st and 2nd Student DaySpring Break April 6-10May 4th Designated Teacher WorkdayJune 5th Last Day of SchoolJune 8th – 9th Designated Teacher workdaysJune 10th Undesigned Teacher Workday
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