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Delegates plan to introduce bill to change school calendar

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Delegates plan to introduce bill to change school calendar
By Pamela Pritt, The Register-Herald

The number of school days will be fewer for students, but teachers will have an extra five days of staff development if a bill proposed by Fayette County Delegate Dave Perry is passed in the upcoming legislative session.

Instructional days would be reduced to 175, including three inclement weather days, but teachers would still have 200 days of employment, Perry said. Also, school starting before Labor Day would be prohibited and a mandatory end of term would be set at June 5.

Statewide “high-stakes” testing would be administered within eight days of the end of school. Testing now generally occurs in March or April.

“Once the high-stakes testing is over with, instruction basically stops for students and teachers,” Perry, a Democrat and a former principal at Collins Middle School, said.

Perry said if the bill becomes law, it “takes away the interference with summer jobs, summer vacations and fairs and festivals.”

Because of seemingly continuous snowstorms and intermittent flooding last winter, county school systems were under pressure to provide students with 180 days of instruction. Some counties had school until June 24, while others gave up spring break.

This year, some school systems began instructional days near the beginning of August and others gave up Thanksgiving break to ensure the 180 instructional days would be met.

Perry said his bill would solve those issues and standardize the school year for all 55 counties.

“It pretty much is a revolutionary change, a more pragmatic, practical approach to what is actually happening in the classroom,” he said. “There’s nothing magic about 180 days. This bill is based on quality time, not quantity of time.”

He said a companion bill that would address instructional minutes — a concept he supports — is also likely to be introduced next session.

Perry said Wednesday he plans to introduce the bill on the first day of the session, Jan. 13. The bill is co-sponsored by Delegate Ricky Moye, D-Raleigh, and Delegate George “Boogie” Ambler, R-Greenbrier.