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Focus on the issue: School calendar flexibility

May 1, 2015

by Nicole Arnold, NCAR Director of Political Communications & Local Government Affairs

For many years local school systems in North Carolina could set their school calendars to begin and end at their discretion.  In the early 2000s, the 19 billion dollar tourism and travel sector lobbied the legislature to wield greater control over the school calendar.  NCAR has consistently joined in these efforts, asking the legislature to provide stability in the school calendar.

In 2004 the General Assembly enacted laws requiring a set school calendar.  As a result, parents, families and businesses can plan with more efficiency and predictability.  NC law currently requires 1,025 hours of classroom instruction per year over fewer than 185 days.  Since 2004, local school systems have asked that the legislature amend calendar law to allow for greater encroachment over summer months.  NCAR has stood firm as a voice for a set school calendar through all these discussions.

On Wednesday evening, April 29, the NC House passed HB 164, School Calendar Flexibility.  Critics of the bill said that it allowed no greater control for local school systems than the current constraints of the law.  Advocates of HB 164 pointed to two areas that local education agencies could now adjust because of language in the bill.

“Local education agencies will be able to conduct first semester exams before the holiday break,” said Cady Thomas, Chief Lobbyist for NCAR.  Thomas then described another change under HB 164.  “The bill provides for high school students to take courses at community colleges and universities."  Thomas continued to explain that HB 164 achieved the goals of flexibility proponents by striking a compromise that NCAR is proud to support.

“We… care deeply about the children of our state and their education,” said Thomas.  “Without good educational opportunities, people will not choose to move to North Carolina and businesses will not relocate.”

NCAR lobbied successfully for the passage of HB 164.  After successfully warding off an amendment to fully repeal the school calendar law, the bill passed late in the evening of April 29, and now heads to the Senate for consideration.  NCAR will continue to monitor all regulatory bills impacting the school calendar.