Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will have a shorter school year in 2016-17 under the calendar adopted by the school board Tuesday.
The academic calendar contains 176 school days, compared with the standard 180-day calendar. CMS administrators said they were constrained by state law, which requires school to begin on the Monday closest to Aug. 26 and finish on the Friday closest to June 11. Due to quirks in where those dates fall in 2016, larger chunks of those months are unavailable for classes.
The calendar has 1,056 instructional hours, more than the 1,025 hours required by state law. This year’s calendar had 1,088 hours.
The shortened school year will make things more challenging should bad weather hit, particularly late in the school year. In February, CMS decided to waive several snow makeup days rather than use Memorial Day as a makeup day. That luxury was only available because of the longer-than-mandated year.
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The school district may be forced to take steps it wouldn’t normally use – including taking spring break days or holding school on Saturdays – should students be out of class for an extended period that year.
The calendar that was adopted was the shorter of two options presented to the school board. Superintendent Ann Clark said while the polling was close, the option adopted was more popular. The other calendar had 178 days, 1,068 hours, and a slightly longer winter break and shorter spring break.
Because of situations like this, school districts in North Carolina have been pushing the state legislature to grant them more leeway in determining a calendar. Several bills to that effect were introduced this year, all of them dead on arrival.
Wake County has been considering calendar options that would cut the number of teacher workdays in the year, or extend the school day by five minutes.