Craven County Schools plans to ask for a waiver from the General Assembly to adopt a new modified school calendar for the 2013-14 school year.
The new calendar, if approved, would be very similar to the school calendar currently in place for the early college high schools and would be almost a hybrid of the traditional calendar and the year-round calendar.
Under the proposed calendar, classes for students at all 25 Craven County public schools would begin on Aug. 5, 2013, and end on May 23, 2014. High school graduations would be held May 24, 2014.
Included in the proposed calendar would be a week-long fall break beginning Oct. 7, a two-week break at Christmas and a spring break during the week of April 14.
Craven County Schools currently has three separate school calendars, the traditional calendar mandated by state law in which classes are not permitted to begin until Aug. 25, the year-round calendar on which Havelock Elementary, Arthur W. Edwards Elementary and Tucker Creek Middle operate in which students get three-week breaks during the year but a shortened summer, and the early college high school calendar in which classes operate on more of a traditional college schedule.
"Having our system on three different calendars creates many challenges for our students, parents, staff and community members," according to a statement from Craven County Schools. "Families living on these three different calendars are faced with obstacles, while at the district level, trying to coordinate district-wide professional development for staff on a date that aligns with all three calendars is impossible."
One of the biggest impacts for the new calendar would be a shift in final exams and testing, especially in high schools, to before Christmas break. Currently, high school students take first-semester exams in the middle of January.
The shift would allow high school seniors who graduate early the opportunity to enroll in college for the spring semester, rather than waiting until the fall.
The Craven County Board of Education voted in November to seek a waiver from the state law requiring the Aug. 25 start date for traditional schools.
The system’s school calendar committee met in announced, public meetings earlier this year and proposed the modified calendar but also proposed the traditional, year-round and early college calendars. The school system has set a March 15 deadline for action by the General Assembly on the calendar issue. If the wavier fails or if the General Assembly doesn’t take up the issue, Craven County would operate under the traditional, year-round and early college calendars for 2013-2014.
Craven County Schools operated under a similar calendar to the one proposed prior to 2004, when the General Assembly passed legislation that took school-calendar choices out of the hands of local boards and mandated that classes for students start no earlier than Aug. 25 and end no later than June 10. Year-round schools were exempt from the ruling.
The action came as many in the travel and tourism industry had argued that modified calendars reduced the amount of time families could take for vacations during the summer months, thus hurting the bottom lines of many business owners.
Craven County Schools plans to send out information about the school calendars to parents in January after the Christmas holiday break.