School Calendar Issue
NC House Bill 593
This was a bill that failed to pass last year but resurfaced and was unanimously passed on July 9, 2010. Our House representative, Bruce Goforth, was a co-sponsor of the bill. In addition to making two hour weather-related delays count towards snow make-up days, it includes a section on campaign finance reform. This bill is a political maneuver allowing local school boards to easily accumulate 8 snow days and thus be eligible to receive the waiver from the school calendar law. Then they have free reign to start school as early as they please. Remember when Buncombe County was starting on August 5th?
House Bill 593 - History
House Bill 593 - Text (PDF)
Resolution Passed Unanimously at the May 6, 2010 BCS Board Meeting (PDF)
At the May 6, 2010 Buncombe County School Board meeting, the board unanimously passed a resolution asking that "delayed start" days be counted as snow days so that BCS can be assured of getting a waiver to start early each year. The Citizen Times reported: "The board will work with state Sen. Martin Nesbitt on legislation that would make it easier for mountain counties to get waivers from the calendar law.” In House Bill 593 BCS got what they asked for; now the question is, how will we make up all of those two hour delay days - will we be going to school through July? And what about the scheduled two hour early release days - these days don't have to be made up.
"The school calendar law puts local control in the hands of parents, students and teachers. This became a legislative issue only because citizens were ignored year after year when they asked local boards to stop starting school earlier and earlier in August. This law provides consistent start and end dates, our summers are preserved for family time, enrichment opportunities and jobs that are vitally needed, by students and by teachers. Lower income families count on scholarships to programs which offer experiences – often life-changing experiences - they never dreamed of for their children. The calendar law levels the playing field for testing, too." Read full public comment from Lisa Baldwin
Buncombe County Schools Budget Information
The school superintendent says that maintaining classroom teaching positions should be the number one budget priority. Even though 47.5 teaching positions were lost last year, apparently no one in the administration or on the school board even brought up the possibility of moving funds to help pay teacher salaries. In a tough economic climate the hard questions must be asked. In fact the state legislature did just that when they approved that 2010-11 lottery funds could be spent for teacher salaries. Fifty percent of the net proceeds will now go towards early elementary class size reduction, forty percent for school construction and ten percent for college scholarships for students who qualify for the federal Pell Grant.
Public Charter School Funding - Did Buncombe County underpay the three local charter schools?
This PDF link is the Buncombe County School Board resolution regarding the charter school funding dispute. This resolution was passed unanimously by the Board on June 3, 2010. Buncombe County will begin setting aside money if indeed they do owe the charter schools close to $700,000; however, BCS believes the total is closer to $356,000 and will set that money aside.
Recently, a settlement with the charter schools was reached. Buncombe County will pay $345,000 in back payments to charter schools from the 2006-07 school year through last year. Francine Delany New School for Children, Evergreen Community Charter School and ArtSpace Charter School will share in the settlement, which does not address funding for the 2009-10 school year or future funding.
This is one of the issues I'm addressing - the inconsistencies between high schools in the amount and type of summer homework assigned. This grid (PDF) points out this issue - following the Buncombe County School Board approval of the Honors Summer Work Administrative Guidelines, ACRHS reduced their summer work. The grid points out that the work is still excessive and does not follow the guidelines (PDF).
The guidelines came about when A.C. Reynolds High School parents voiced concerns over the volume of summer homework assigned for AP and Honors classes. The guidelines were a collaborative effort between parents, teachers and administrators and addressed the issues at ACRHS - of excessive summer homework deterring students from taking challenging classes, unreasonable expectations for those taking more than one class and disparity between local high schools. However, the guidelines were not monitored or enforced. Nor was the shorter summer break taken into consideration.
This New York Times article explains the ill-effects of "Year-round Homework"
Pay particular attention to the last paragraph, "In 2000, parents in Arlington, Va., banded together and took complaints about summer homework to the school board, spurring an overhaul of the district’s policy. More parents around the country should stop complaining to each other and let school officials know that they won’t stand by as large parts of our sons and daughters’ childhoods are stolen for no good reason. Our children will grow up happier and healthier and perhaps even have time to read a good book
Charles T. Koontz Intermediate School - opening for the school year 2011-12
This new 5th-6th grade school will include students from the Avery's Creek, Estes and Glen Arden Elementary Schools. Upon completion of 6th grade, all students will then attend Valley Springs M.S. for 7th grade with the exception of Glen Arden students. These students will join Fairview Elementary students (who attend Cane Creek Middle School for 6th-8th grade) for 7th-8th grades, moving from the Roberson School District to the Reynolds District and then back to the Roberson District! The children who attend the four schools (Glen Arden, CT Koontz, Cane Creek MS, TC Roberson) will have a dramatic change in their peer group every two years during a developmentally challenging time. Geographic distance from the four schools these children will attend is dramatic. Property values in the area will be affected as possible buyers realize the impact for their children and choose to go to other areas.
Concerned parents have started a petition here
Save our Summers - This coalition of parents started the grassroots effort to enact the calendar law.