New Hanover County Schools consider earlier start to the school year

New Hanover County Schools consider earlier start to the school year

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - The calendar committee for New Hanover County Schools is working through a complicated process to try to simplify the district’s current nine school calendars.

The proposed changes are for the 2020-2021 school year.

The group has several goals:

-To streamline the calendars to allow easier scheduling for families with multiple children in different schools

-To help more students take advantage of dual enrollment opportunities for college credit

-To create a calendar with the first semester ending before Winter Break, with the school year ending by Memorial Day Weekend.

Students and staff would have to return to school about two weeks earlier next fall in order hold mid-year testing at the end of the first semester, before the holiday break. Traditional school students returned on August 27, this year.

Deputy Superintendent LeChawn Smith says high schools are particularly supportive of the idea to start earlier to achieve the goal of ending the first semester before the holiday.

The district has several different types of schools --- including early colleges, several year-round schools and two restart schools -- which have their own legal requirements for their calendar.

“New Hanover County Schools is a district that prides itself on being responsive to the needs of our students and also to the needs of our families and so we have three early colleges, each of those early colleges have been allowed to personalize their calendar because we want to do what’s best for children,” Smith said.

During Thursday’s meeting, participants brought up everything from the needs of kindergarten students who are scheduled to start school in staggers the first week, to dual-enrolled students who have struggled in the past with transportation to their college program when other parts of the district are on a break.

“We were looking at one point in making shifts in our current year-round calendar and we heard wonderful feedback from parents that they really like what the current calendar represents, what it affords to them as families, and so we were quickly able to say ‘well we’re not going to make any changes there’ because that’s not what families support,” Smith said.

The calendar committee is made up of representatives for the board of education, the senior leadership team, teachers, parents and a principal from each school level.

At this point, committee members have been asked to get more feedback from those they represent.

The committee will eventually make its recommendation to the board of Education, which has the final say on adopting new calendars.

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