This school year will likely be the last for the year-round calendar in three Havelock schools as the Craven County system makes a push for a modified calendar.
School officials say if the bid for a modified calendar fails to get through the General Assembly, all Craven County schools except for the two early colleges would move to the traditional calendar.
Currently, Arthur W. Edwards Elementary, Havelock Elementary and Tucker Creek Middle schools — all in Havelock — operate on the year-round calendar in which classes start in July and continue through June with nine-week grading periods interrupted by three-week breaks.
In the traditional calendar — mandated by state law — classes start no earlier than Aug. 25 and continue until June 10 with the only long breaks being for the Christmas and Easter holidays.
Craven County school officials want a modified calendar for all schools. That calendar would mirror roughly the calendar of colleges in which classes start in early August, with the first semester ending before the Christmas holiday. Classes would end for the year in late May.
A modified calendar would require the General Assembly to approve a waiver of state law. School officials sought such approval this spring for the current school year, but the measure failed.
Linda Thomas, vice chair of the Craven County Board of Education, said in a statement that if such a measure failed this spring, all schools would go to the traditional calendar.
“The administration and Board of Education have agreed that is the best plan, and that is what is being worked toward at this time,” she said.
School officials say the county’s current three-calendar system makes county-wide continuing education of teachers, training and administrator meetings difficult because not all staff members have the same work days. The modified calendar would also allow for early high school graduates to enroll in college for the spring semester.
Many parents on the year-round calendar as well as staff members insist that calendar is what is best for students, with smaller three-week breaks out of the classroom helping children retain more of what they have learned.
Thomas said in her statement that the board has heard from parents that having children on different school calendars can be difficult on scheduling vacations and other activities.
“What we continue to hear from the Havelock community, through our Board of Education representatives, is that the community wants one calendar for all the schools in Havelock,” Thomas said in her statement.
Craven County Schools created and operated under a calendar similar to the modified schedule until 2004, when the General Assembly passed legislation mandating the traditional calendar schedule. The law basically took school calendar decisions out of the hands of local boards and administrators. The legislation followed a “Save Our Summers” campaign by some parent groups and the state’s travel and tourism industry.
Lane Mills, superintendent of Craven County Schools, sent letters to parents of children in the year-round schools explaining the decision to seek the modified calendar and the possibility that the year-round schools would be moved to the traditional calendar for the 2014-15 school year. The letter also advised parents of the county system’s calendar committee meetings, the first of which was held Tuesday night in New Bern.
The meetings are open to the public, but no parents attended the first session on Tuesday night. The next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 24, with a final meeting planned for Oct. 8. For more information on the committee meetings, call Craven County Schools at 514-6300.