March 12, 2013. In the latest adjustment of the school calendar for winter weather, March 21 and 22 have been officially changed to regular school days instead of teacher work days for professional development as originally planned. The change was approved by the Watauga Board of Education at its meeting Monday night.
Schools in WCS have been closed a total of 15 days this year for snow and ice and those days will be made up by extending the school year through Monday, June 10th. Using March 21-22 as regular school days avoids the need to further extend the school year at this time and it reduces the odds that April 4 and 5 of spring break might have to be used as makeup days.
Should additional school closings be required on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday of this week or on April 8-10, schools will be open on Saturday of that week. If additional school closings occur on any other dates, the school year would be extended up to two more days, through June 12.
If schools open on a Saturday, they will operate on an early release schedule, with kindergarten through eighth grade students dismissing at 12:00 p.m. and the high school at 1:00 p.m. Pre-kindergarten classes will not meet and the afterschool program will not operate on a Saturday. Lunch will be served in all schools and buses would run their usual routes.
Devising and implementing a school calendar that complies with state law and works well for local families is always a challenge for mountain counties in NC, and that task is even more daunting under a revised school calendar law that takes effect next year. If the current law is not changed, schools in Watauga County will begin classes on Monday, August 19, and the school year would end on May 30 provided there are no closings due to winter weather. However, the average number of days that schools are closed for winter weather in Watauga County is about 14.5 days, making it possible that both a later ending date and a shorter spring break could be required for the next school year.
A bill restoring local control of the school calendar to the Boards of Education in Watauga and Ashe counties has been introduced in the current session of the NC General Assembly but no action has been taken on that legislation at this point. Similar legislation has been introduced for a number of other counties and there has also been no movement on those bills.