CMS backtracks on talks about opening schools in early August | WFAE 90.7

Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools leaders are backing away from talking about defying the state’s controversial school calendar law this year.

The district is currently asking the community about two options for the 2023-24 school calendar. Both bring students back on August 28, as required by the state school calendar law.

Normally, that wouldn’t be a surprise. But when the schools opened this year, Acting Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh told reporters the school board asked him to follow Central Piedmont Community College’s schedule, which begins August 14, for the coming year. .

Hattabaugh said he and CMS board leaders agreed it was best for students to start in mid-August and take mid-year high school exams before the winter break.

“It’s best for students,” he said at the time. “We’re talking about EOC, EOG and kids having to come back and have a week in review. So I think it’s the right decision.”

Hattabaugh noted that the decision would be up to the board. President Elyse Dashew, who was in the audience at the press conference, did not contradict him. She had recently tweeted her support for the Gaston County School Board’s decision approve a start date of August 17 who defied state law.

Charles Jeter, director of policy and government affairs for the CMS board, now says any decision to sync with the central Piedmont calendar is unlikely to come until 2024.

Gaston, Cleveland and Rutherford counties opened early this year, despite a state calendar law largely driven by the tourism industry that requires most districts to open in late August. In September, the Cabarrus county school board voted to join them in August 2023.

The current law does not specify penalties for violating the mandate, and many lawmakers from both parties have called for giving districts flexibility. By the time CMS tackles its 2024-25 timeline, lawmakers will likely have loosened current restrictions or put some teeth into them. And the district will probably have a permanent superintendent; Hattabaugh’s contract runs until June 6, 2023.

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