To the Editor,
January is School Board Appreciation Month, and Avery County Schools want to say “thank you” to all our board members who do so much for our school system. Avery County is represented by five dedicated board members who devote countless hours to make sure our students are served in the best way possible.
Chair John Greene, Vice-Chair Kathey Aldridge, Dr. Bob Clark, Steve Smith and Keith Tutterow are true advocates for the children of Avery County, developing policies and make decisions that help shape the future of our educational system. Our school board oversees more than 2,000 students, 460 employees, and an annual budget of $25,000,000. I am proud to work with our board, and I congratulate them on their excellent leadership and vision for the students of Avery County.
On another topic, winter weather always poses a problem because of the impact it has on school schedules. I think it is fair to say that most all of us enjoy a snow day, but none of us really enjoy making them up.
As we prepare the 2017-2018 school calendar, I would like to explain some of the calendar issues that we are required to deal with. One of the first issues to understand is that ten-month employees are required to work 215 days. Those 215 days are broken up as follows: 185 instructional days; eleven days as holidays; ten annual leave (vacation) days; and nine workdays. Of those nine workdays, at least two must be optional workdays.
This year, in order to get our first semester in and finish high school exams before Christmas, we continued to add an additional twenty minutes to each school day for students. This additional time not only allowed us to finish the first semester before Christmas, it also provided us with extra time in case of inclement weather.
The current calendar legislation allows a school year to be defined as a minimum 185 instructional days or 1,025 instructional hours. Adding additional time to the school day does allow us the opportunity to use the 1,025 hours as a minimal school year and not be required to make-up some of the instructional time we miss. Choosing the 1,025 instructional hours minimum, requires us to subtract any instructional hours missed (i.e. delays or early dismissals) from the total hours.
At this point, we have missed three days of school. For those days, we already had the time made up. Based on the additional time we have added; we will have approximately 9 instructional days worth of time banked by the end of the school year. These days will be used to make-up the instructional time for the next nine days we miss.
Nine-month employees (bus drivers and cafeteria staff) are paid only when students are in school. This factors in to our decision about the number of instructional days that we don’t make up.
We do appreciate everyone’s suggestions on our calendar as we strive to do everything possible to keep our students and staff safe during this inclement weather. I do encourage you to talk with us about any questions or suggestions you may have about our current calendar or next year’s calendar. We will be deciding about the appropriate time to cease the additional twenty minutes per day after the winter season.
I wish for you a wonderful rest of the winter, and let’s hope that spring comes soon. Thanks again for all you do for our school system. The following is the most current calendar rules for your consideration.
CALENDAR LAW SUMMARY EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2013
2012 Senate Bill 187 (Session Law 2012-145), applies beginning with the 2013-2014 school year, rewrites a portion of the calendar law (General Statute 115C-84.2).
School Calendars must meet the following requirements:
- Start date no earlier than the Monday closest to August 26 and end date no later than the Friday closest to June 11 (unless a weather related calendar waiver has been approved, year-round school, charter school or cooperative innovative high school.) If waiver is approved the start date can be no earlier than the Monday closest to August 19. (Avery County Schools have filed a waiver)
- There are no educational purpose waivers for exemption of the opening and/or closing dates.
- All schools within the district must be closed all day for purposes of determining eligibility for a weather related waiver (delayed starts or early dismissals of two or more hours no longer apply).
- Covers at least nine calendar months.
- Must have a minimum of 185 days OR 1,025 hours of instruction.
- Must have at least nine teacher workdays.
- Local Boards shall designate two (2) workdays on which teachers may take accumulated vacation leave. Local Boards may designate the remaining workdays as days teachers may take accumulated vacation leave. Two days must be scheduled Optional Annual Leave days.
- Have a minimum of 10 annual vacation leave days.
- Have the same or an equivalent number of legal holidays occurring within the school calendar as those designated by the State Personnel Commission for State employees. (Currently 11)
- School shall not be held on Sunday.
- Veterans Day shall be a holiday for all public school personnel and for all students enrolled in the public schools.