School day lengthened to make up for missed time

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By Sam Hickman

 The ice has melted, power has been restored, students are back in classrooms, and Brunswick County Schools officials have settled on a way to make up days missed during last week’s severe winter weather. The second winter storm in three weeks kept students and staff out of school for more than two days last week.

Board of Education members approved a plan of adding 12 minutes of instructional time to the school day for the remainder of the 2013-14 school year. The decision was made a scheduled committee meeting Tuesday, Feb. 18.

The new instructional day schedule reflecting the 12 minute addition - five minutes added in the morning and seven minutes added in the afternoon - will begin Monday, March 3, and end on the last day of school which is Thursday, June 12.

County elementary schools will now operate from 8:40 a.m. to 3:52 p.m. Middle schools will operate from 7:50 a.m. to 3:02 p.m., while the high schools’ days will begin at 7:40 a.m. and end at 2:52 p.m.

Brunswick County Academy and Early College High School will operate from 7:55 a.m. until 3:27 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and 7:55 a.m. until 3:07 p.m. on Fridays.

Students in North Carolina are required to attend school for 185 days or 1025 instructional hours.

Schools spokeswoman Jessica Swencki said she has been asked why the time has to be made up at all.

“School officials and Board members believe that instructional time is imperative in improving student outcomes and that our schools simply cannot afford to lose any of that valuable teacher and student time,” she wrote in a Feb. 18 news release.

None of the recommendations presented to the Board at the committee meeting included making up days on Saturdays or during the designated spring break period.

Because of the extreme winter conditions, Brunswick County Schools chose to release students early Feb. 11, citing deteriorating weather conditions. Widespread power outages and unsafe traveling conditions prompted officials to close schools for students and staff Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 12-13. Students returned to classes on a two-hour delay Feb. 14.

The decisions to close were made after careful monitoring of conditions throughout the day and close consultation with Brunswick County Emergency Management and local law enforcement officials, Swencki said.

Schools were also closed Jan. 28, through Friday, Jan. 31, because of an ice storm. The school district initially converted two teacher workdays scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 13, and Friday, Feb. 14, to student days. The makeup day for Thursday, Feb. 13, was lost when students were forced out of school again by severe winter weather.


Sam Hickman is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or shickman@brunswickbeacon.com.