CONCORD, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — School’s out for summer, but not for long. Cabarrus County is one of several school districts in the Charlotte area planning to go back to school in early August, instead of later in the month.
Many school districts and local school boards want to make their own choices about when they start and end the school year, but right now the state calls the shots.
Families are celebrating and teachers are applauding a good school year.
“I was kind of excited, a little bit sad because I wouldn’t see my classmates for a while,” said Eli Barclay, who will be a fourth-grader next school year, “but I was pretty much happy because school is over.“
Eli and his friends are already splashing into summer, knowing it won’t last as long as it normally does.
“I’d prefer it to be longer because I like summer break because we can go camping and stay home and play with friends,” he said.
Students and teachers in Cabarrus County Schools will have a shorter summer because the district is switching to a new calendar and starting earlier next school year.
Eli’s mom is a former high school teacher.
“As an educator, when the exams are after Christmas break, you kind of lose the momentum, the kids don’t really want to study over Christmas break and it makes a big difference,” said Sarah Barclay.
Cabarrus County Schools are making the switch to start school for students on Aug. 10 and get out before Memorial Day. This gets high school exams in before winter break and also allows students in the district’s Early College and those taking college classes to be on the same schedule as the colleges.
But state law says schools can’t start before the end of August.
“I’m curious to know how the counties are able to disregard that state law,” one parent asked Queen City News.
There is legislation, House Bill 86, that passed the state House and is currently hung up in the Senate that would give school districts across the state flexibility in deciding their own calendars.
School board members are urging lawmakers to pass the legislation, saying it benefits students.
“That’s what our focus is, it really and truly is our students and the well-being of how they are able to perform and the education that they receive from our system,” said Denise Adcock, chair of the Cabarrus County Board of Education.
This summer is shorter, so every second counts.
“We’re going to make the most of it, it’s just one summer,” said Sarah Barclay.
In the past, people in favor of starting school early have said the tourism industry has been against it, hoping to keep students employees working on the coast longer in August.
The bill in the state House would not require an early start date. It would give each district flexibility to make those decisions.