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North Carolina Considers Longer Days With Shorter Years

North Carolina's schools may see some restructuring in their academic calendars this school year if new legislation passed by the General Assembly is signed into law by the governor.

The new legislation would give districts the latitude to decide whether to meet minimum day requirements for the year or minimum hour requirements in the day, rather than both, as mandated before. This means, North Carolina schools could keep students in school for longer days but shorter years, if they so desired. There are also provisions to provide the state's 115 districts with more flexibility on when they start and end the year.

The state's consideration of providing districts more freedom with their calendar comes as conversations continue on expanded learning time and how the strategy for school turnaround could best be implemented to improve student outcomes.

According to a news article, the flexibility provided by the new legislation was a compromise between those who wanted to have students extend their time in school and those who didn't want interference with summer vacation, such as tourist-focused businesses. Others also complained that "snow days" already interfere with summer plans and vacation, and by keeping students in school more hours in a day, school time will not encroach on needed time away from school.

Yet the leeway could not only provide districts a choice of when they want to stop and start the year and how long they want to keep students in the classroom, but give them more options for how the instructional program is structured, such as having students take end-of-semester exams before the holiday break.

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