The 2018-2019 calendar for LCPS’s traditional schools creates more space between the end of school and high school graduations and between the end of the first semester and the beginning of the second, but otherwise is little changed from school calendars of recent years.
The next school year is to begin for students on Aug. 27 and end on June 11; both dates are within a few days of the first and last days of school this year. Christmas break in 2018 begins on Dec. 21 and students return to school on Jan. 2, the same as the current calendar. Spring break again falls after, rather than before, Easter Sunday. Students and staff will still get Labor Day, Veterans Day and Memorial Day off.
Although there are some similarities, mainly in scheduled holidays, the calendar for Lenoir County Early College High School is unique in LCPS because it coincides with the schedule of Lenoir Community College, where the high school is housed. The calendar approved by the Lenoir County Board of Education on Monday night applies to 16 of the 17 schools in the district.
The consistency in calendars from year to year for schools on the traditional schedule results from a combination of tradition and the litany of requirements mandated by the N.C. General Assembly.
“The only major considerations were when students’ last day was going to be, when teachers’ start day was going to be and whether to have (teacher) workdays in February,” Associate Superintendent Frances Herring told school board before its unanimous vote.
Among restrictions on public school calendars imposed by the legislature are:
- No start date before the Monday closest to Aug. 25 and no end date later than the Friday closest to June 11.
- At least 185 instructional days or 1,025 instructional hours over at least nine calendar months
- Nine teacher workdays, two of which must be optional
- A minimum of 10 vacation leave days and the same or equivalent number of legal holidays as designated by the state, one of which must be Veterans Day
Board approval capped a month-long process that began with the creation of four calendar options and their presentation to a committee composed of representatives from all LCPS schools and work sites. Committee members explained the options to colleagues at their worksites and staged a secret-ballot vote open to everyone in their building.
After voters chose the calendar, the committee responded to teacher requests to move two workdays from February to March so they would coincide with dates of the NCTies conference, an event many LCPS teachers attend and where some are presenters. Matching the workdays to the conference schedule eliminates the need for substitutes for the teachers who attend.
In 2019, three teacher workdays separate the end of classes on June 11 and graduation ceremonies at the traditional high schools on June 15. Three days – a holiday and two workdays – separate the first and second semesters, rather than the two in the current calendar.
“In the last few years we have finished school on Friday and graduated on Saturday and had workdays the following Monday through Wednesday,” Superintendent Brent Williams told the school board. “In some ways that was very difficult for them because they really had no time to get everything done. This is not a calendar designed for high schools, but it is one that is very attractive to our high school teachers and staff members.”
Lenoir County Early College High School typically begins classes about three weeks ahead of other high schools in the district and holds graduation in mid-May.