Most NC school districts won’t add 5 extra days

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The coming academic year won’t grow five days longer for most North Carolina public school students.

State public school officials overrode the requirement passed by state lawmakers for the second straight year after local school boards complained the extra costs to operate buses and buildings wasn’t coming with any new money. School districts estimated it could cost them about $14 million statewide to hold five more days of classes in the 2012-13 academic year, state schools Superintendent June Atkinson said.

School leaders also said since the extra days would be taken out of time allotted for teacher preparation, it would displace needed training time ahead of a statewide course of study rolling out next fall.

“We projected it would cost $14 million and that was a factor, but another factor is that we will be implementing new standards in all grades and all subjects next year and we felt as if you could really accelerate student learning if teachers had more time to learn and work with those standards,” Atkinson said. “So there was the two factors, the money as well as the need for professional development of our teachers to implement the standards.”

The Republican-led General Assembly last summer voted to add five days to the 180-day calendar to reach a much-discussed goal of increasing student learning by keeping them in classrooms longer.

The decision also preserved a state law requiring a 10-week summer vacation.

But legislative action came just weeks before the start of the current academic year, so state school officials waived the requirement for 2011-12.

Atkinson, with the permission of the state Board of Education, last week again granted waivers from next year’s extended calendar to 92 of the state’s 115 school districts, and 40 out of 100 charter schools.

Other school districts have requests pending, and the rest have until the end of next month to request keeping their school calendars at 180 days.

House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, said in December he thought the extra days could be reconsidered when the Legislature reconvenes in May.

Gov. Beverly Perdue said she likes the idea of a longer school calendar, but that lawmakers needed to find a way to pay for those days first.

This story was written and provided by The Associated Press Wire.  (Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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