School board rejects hourly calendar

By Shelby Harrell | Mar 17, 2017
Photo by: Shelby Harrell The Haywood County Board of Education did not approve an hourly school calendar during it's Monday night board meeting.

Last month, the Haywood County Board of Education considered the idea of changing the 2017-18 annual school calendar to an hourly format — but that was until a plethora of school employees spoke out against it.

During its March school board meeting on Monday, a motion to approve the 2017-18 school calendar in an hourly format failed due to lack of a second.

Currently, Haywood’s school calendar is based on 185 school days, but the idea of switching to an hourly format came up at last month’s work session.

Last month, Calendar Committee Chairman Jenny Would presented on hourly calendar options and the benefits this change could bring to Haywood. For example, it would allow for end-of-semester testing to be done before Christmas vacation and summer break, which is currently an ongoing concern.

However, one disadvantage is that an hourly calendar schedule includes an inclement weather policy that doesn’t allow for snow days to be made up. This means that many Haywood school employees such as cafeteria workers and bus drivers could receive as many as 13 days without pay with the calendar change.

Receiving less pay seemed to be a reason for many employees to speak out against the new calendar, and board members heard from several of them over the past two months.

“I got a tremendous amount of calls and emails,” said Haywood County Board of Education Chuck Francis.

The Education Center was also filled with dozens of school employees during the February in March school board meetings — many of these employees were filled with worry and anxiety about the new calendar schedule being approved.

Board members seemed to listen, and as a result, the motion for the new calendar was not passed.

“The main reason I felt like it did not pass is that it would have possibly hurt our hourly employees from a standpoint of losing days of employment,” Francis said after the vote was taken. “If you shorten the calendar down by days, it would affect their number of days paid.”

Since the board did not approve the hourly version, Wood was asked to instead put together another calendar to present next month, just like the current one based on days.

Wood said the idea for an hourly calendar came up after middle school administrators presented the idea and thought it sounded like a beneficial change.

“There are some surrounding counties that have that schedule and it typically helps with their weather situation,” Wood explained. “[The administrators] were talking about how it would optimize time to have testing done before Christmas and testing done before the middle of June — then they brought it to me, and asked me to take it to the calendar committee and see if they would even consider it as an option. The committee did, so I started developing it, and learning more about it, but the board didn’t approve it.”

The calendar committee is made up of a representative from each school (either a principal, teacher or teacher assistant), community member Julie Mulhern, a member of the county-wide PTA, school board member Jim Harley Francis, a representative from the Haywood NCAE, Transportation Director Todd Trantham, Associate Superintendent Bill Nolte and Wood — both of whom do not to vote.

For now, the 2017-18 school calendar is expected to look the same as the current year, but Francis said the idea of an hourly format could be looked at again in future years.

For now, Francis said he was hoping a bill will be introduced in the N.C. General Assembly that would allow for school boards to have more flexibility with their calendars — thus making it possibly to readjust the school’s starting date. A measure was introduced last session, but did not pass.

“We might take a look at again it see if we can modify it to not hurt employees," Francis said.