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Edgecombe mulls new school calendar

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

TARBORO — High school students in Edgecombe County Public Schools likely will be taking first semester exams before Christmas next year, if school board members approve a proposed calendar at the March school board meeting.

Susan Hoke, communications coordinator for Edgecombe County Public Schools, presented two versions of the calendar to school board members at Monday night’s board meeting. School board members had asked staff last month to examine the issue and see if there was a legal solution that would allow for first semester to end before Christmas.

Both versions of the calendar would include a start date of Monday, Aug. 27, 2018 — the earliest start date allowed under the current legislative model. However, the first version of the calendar would include 79 first-semester school days as opposed to 97 days in the second semester for a total of 176 student days. Students would have exams before a two-week winter break that would begin closer to Christmas than in the past.

The second version of the calendar would look much like the current calendar. Under that model, students would have 90 student days in each semester. However, first semester exams would take place on Jan. 14-18. In both models, high school graduations would be held June 7-8, 2019.

“We have shared both versions of this calendar with all school principals and asked them to gather feedback from their staff,” Hoke said. “So far, principals —especially high school principals — have overwhelmingly favored the first version. We wanted to present these calendars to the school board this month as an ‘item for information’ to solicit your thoughts and comments as we work to develop a calendar that is in the best interest of our students.”

Most of the school board members seemed to approve of the new calendar. However, school board member Raymond Privott said he is concerned about the three-week differential in the the number of days between the two semesters.

However, Hoke said the loaded second semester schedule would offer some clear advantages.

“We will most likely lose some days in early January anyway because of snow like we have the past two years, but those days would come from second semester, not first semester,” Hoke said. “Also, some of the staff pointed out that AP classes are usually in the second semester, and this calendar would allow more time for those classes. The new calendar would also allow more time for teachers to help students with scholarships and to take college trips. And there are a lot of events that take kids out the classroom in the second semester like math competitions and quiz bowl. So I feel it will even out in the long run.”

The school board is expected to make a decision on the calendar at the next school board meeting on March 12.

Last week, the Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education approved a similar 2018-19 academic calendar that will shorten the first semester and schedule exams before the winter break.

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