School board discusses instructional days increase

Published 10:40 am Wednesday, April 11, 2012

WINTON – Five days is a big difference.

In its last meeting, the Hertford County Board of Education discussed at length the difference between students having 180 instructional days and the change coming from the North Carolina General Assembly to have students attend school 185 days.

During a report given by Testing Director Ron Lane, the board heard the school district is currently meeting the required 180 days and 1,000 hours of instruction required by the NC General Assembly.

They also heard from Lane that the school district has requested a waiver for a second year to use the five days increase required by the state for staff development rather than classroom instruction. The waiver has been approved by North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson.

That prompted a question from school board member J. Wendell Hall.

“Those five days you received a waiver for are part of the 185,” Hall said. “What was the intent of the legislation?”

Lane said it was to provide more instructional time for students.

Hall asked when the decision was made to ask for the waiver and use the time for staff development rather than instruction.

“I thought at some point we were going to actually increase to 185 days,” he said. “I’m surprised to hear it. I think more instructional time would increase academic growth.”

Board member Dennis M. Deloatch said he was also concerned about the five days being used for staff development rather than instruction.

“I would also like to say it was the intent of the legislation to increase instructional hours for students,” he said. “I hope we would do whatever we can to follow the intent of the legislation.

“There is a correlation between the time of instruction and growth,” he added.

Board Chairman David L. Shields asked staff members how much the staff development on the upcoming Common Core standards was actually helping since the guidelines for the new initiative seemed to be constantly changing.

“I kind of think that time would be better spent in the classroom,” he said.

After a discussion about the continued need for working towards having Common Core in place next year, the board returned to discussing those five days.

Deloatch asked Assistant Superintendent Dr. Valerie Williams how much more staff development was necessary to have Common Core in place.

“We need several more days,” she said. “We have one more this year and we will need more next year. It is a massive undertaking. We need anything the state is allowing.”

The board did not take specific action on the five days, but did approve the parameters of next year’s calendar which allows those days to be used for staff development.