By Jesse Wood
May 14, 2013. If not for the snow days, the 2012-13 school year would have been over next week.
Now looking towards next year, the Watauga County Board of Education finalized and approved the 2013-14 year school calendar last night at its monthly meeting. (See full calendar below.)
The reason for the start-of-school state law is due to effective lobbying efforts on the part of the summer tourism industry, which prefers longer summers for students.
As has been the case since WCS spokesman Marshall Ashcraft has been with the system, WCS would prefer to start two weeks earlier than Aug. 19, so the fall semester would end before Christmas break and early graduates could move on to community college or ASU in the spring.
“The schedule doesn’t make it impossible. It certainly makes it very difficult for those students and puts us in a difficult situation if we have harsh weather in terms of making up those lost days,” Ashcraft said on Tuesday morning.
Last year, Watauga County Schools missed 20 days due to inclement weather, although only 19 days were classified as snow days because buses ran on that last weather day in April.
In years past – or at least for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years, a provision was written into the school calendar law that made it possible for five snow days to be forgiven if schools were to miss at least 20 school days in year, which was the case for WCS both those years.
That law is no longer valid.
The last day of school for the current 2012-13 school year is June 12.
Ashcraft said that even though the school year is lasting well into June, end-of-grade testing late in the year won’t add to a “substantial difference from other years in terms of lag time” – the difference between the end of the school year and the end of testing.
He said that the end-of-grade tests have been postponed with awareness to the extended school year. Ashcraft noted that this year WCS – regarding end-of-grade tests – has “more room” to work with because students aren’t allowed to retest.
In years past if students didn’t achieve proficiency, they were allowed to retest in hopes of scoring higher. However, this year Ashcraft said scores wont come back in time for students to know whether or not they scored proficiently and to retake the test if so desired.
Next year’s calendar includes an attachment that orders which days are to be used as make up days. Days in June would be used first. After five days are missed, Saturday school could become an option. If further days are missed, spring break could be cut short – like it was this year.
For more details, see two attachments below.