Brittney Lofthouse – Staff Writer
Despite waiting for the North Carolina General Assembly to pass legislation to give school districts more control of their local calendars, the Macon County Board of Education voted to approve school calendars for area schools last week.
Calendars were developed by a committee of school administrators and district leaders over the last few months and were submitted to the central office for consideration. The school calendars in Macon County are broken up into three districts, the Franklin Area, Nantahala Area, and Highlands. Macon Early College also has a separate calendar in order to fall in line with classes at Southwestern Community College.
The approved calendars complies with several state mandates, including when school districts can begin and end school, and how many hours each school will be open to students. While school districts across the state are hopeful legislators will return local control of the calendars to individual districts, Macon County had to develop a calendar this year that met the state mandates.
School for Franklin, Highlands, and Nantahala area classes will begin on Monday, Aug. 27 for the 2018-19 school year. Macon Early College (MEC) will have its first day of class on Monday, Aug. 13, the same day for classes at SCC.
Christmas holidays in the county also align this year, with school being out from Monday, Dec. 24, through Friday, Jan. 4. MEC will have its Christmas break the same time as SCC, beginning on Friday, Dec. 21. Spring break for MEC will fall on March 11 through March 15, while the other schools in the county will have spring break the following month, from April 15 though April 19.
All district schools are scheduled to end the 2018-2019 school year on Friday, May 24, 2019.
Where the calendars will vary next school year are in when snow days are built into the calendar. Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin noted that Macon County Schools do not qualify for any weather exemptions this year, and have to be careful with snow days in the attempt to get the first semester completed and testing done before the Christmas holiday. Snow days for Franklin area schools will be Feb. 18 and April 22. Both Highlands School and Nantahala School will have four snow days built into their calendars. Snow days at Highlands School are scheduled for Feb. 22, March 22, April 12 and May 3; Nantahala School’s snow days are Jan. 4, March 11, April 12 and 22.
The state requires students to attend a minimum of 1,025 hours in the school year. Students in the Franklin area will attend school for 170 days for total of 1,071 hours. The school year at Highlands School and Nantahala School will include 168 days for a total of 1,063 hours.
Macon County Board of Education Chairman Jim Breedlove noted that he was hopeful legislation would change in the coming year and allow Macon County to control their school calendar. If that is achieved, Breedlove mentioned he would like to see all of Macon County Schools align with the Macon Early College schedule to streamline the calendars in the district.