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Wednesday, November 22 - No School for Students / Annual Leave Day

Wednesday, November 22 - No School for Students / Annual Leave Day

School Matters - March 23, 2017

IMPORTANT Legislative Updates
K-3 Class Size Issue
The Senate included a provision in the last budget that changes the class size maximum that has been in place for years. Many years ago the legislature did away with a separate allotment for specialty teachers. These specialty teachers (art, music, PE) are now funded through the same allotment as regular teachers. To staff our K-3 classrooms at the ratio the Senate inserted in the budget for 2017-18 would require the elimination of specialty teachers, the increase in class size in grades 4-12, or additional local resources.

The NC House adopted HB 13 unanimously, with bi-partisan support, that reduces the negative impact on the class size provision in the budget, but does not eliminate the issue. The bill was placed in the Rules Committee in the Senate and has seen no movement. Davie County Schools has been following the law and the allotment procedures outlined by NCDPI. We do not have any classes in our district over the class size maximum, and in fact we are well below the class size maximum in most of our classrooms. If a resolution is not reached in the next few weeks we will have to present options to reduce staff in other areas or raise class sizes in other grade levels to address the shortfall in 2017-18. We wish to continue to provide a quality balanced education for our students that includes art, music, and physical education.

I have had several calls asking about this issue, and at this point it is in the hands of the NC Senate. Those in our district with concerns should contact their Senator, Andrew Brock at (919) 715-0690 or at Andrew.Brock@ncleg.net.

See the letter from the superintendent outlining concerns as far back as last September.


 School Calendar Bills
At their March 7 regular meeting, the Board of Education voted unanimously to ask the superintendent to contact our local legislators to request that Davie County be included in a local calendar bill giving Boards of Education the flexibility to set the school calendar and better align that calendar to community colleges. Here is some information about how calendar flexibility would benefit our students:

  • 50-70 students at Davie County High School are enrolled in Davidson Community College courses each semester. The flexibility to align our calendars would eliminate scheduling conflicts for these students (our semesters now overlap) and could increase enrollment in college courses.
  • Approximately 170 Davie County Early College High School students are enrolled in community college courses. Early Colleges are exempt from the calendar law so their calendar is already aligned with the community college. Since they are in school at times when other students in the district are not, we have additional costs of shuttle transportation that could be eliminated if our calendars were aligned.
  • Advanced Placement exams are the first two weeks in May each year. If our schools could start earlier in August and finish by the end of May, our students would have more instructional time to prepare for these exams.
  • Starting the school year around August 10 would allow high school students to complete their exams before the Christmas break.
  • Under the current calendar law, we have several fall season athletic events before school even starts. An earlier start date would better align those events to when students are actually in school.

Dr. Hartness contacted and spoke with both Representative Howard and Senator Brock on Wednesday morning, March 8. Representative Howard indicated that she would be glad to run a local bill on behalf of the Board of Education, and she filed House Bill ​301 on March 9, 2017. HB301 gives the Davie County Board of Education flexibility to set the calendar. We appreciate Representative Howard's support on this issue.

Senator Brock did not seem receptive to including Davie in a local calendar bill. He said that he would be talking to the people in Davie County to get their input on this legislation

The deadline for submitting local bills to bill drafting in the Senate was March 8 at 4:00, therefore the only way for Senator Brock to address the request by the Board of Education would be to add Davie to one of the 12 other Senate bills already filed prior to the deadline. Senator Brock has added Davie to other bills in the past, so it would not be a problem to add Davie to another bill if he chose to support the Board of Education's request on this matter.

There seems to be significant interest in addressing this issue in this legislative session. There are many bills that have been filed giving school boards this flexibility​: 29 House bills and 12 Senate bills representing 79 of the 115 school districts. We hope the legislature will give local boards of education the flexibility to set a school calendar that best fits the needs of individual communities across the state.

Again, we thank Representative Howard for supporting local flexibility in the calendar. Senator Brock indicated he wished to talk to Davie County constituents to hear their thoughts on this issue. Senator Brock can be reached at (919) 715-0690 or at Andrew.Brock@ncleg.net.


 Participation in Athletics and Extracurricular Activities
Two bills have been filed to require that school districts allow homeschooled students to play on sports teams and participate in extracurricular activities at traditional high schools. The bills would also require that public high school students without access to a particular sport or extracurricular be allowed to participate in that sport/activity at the closest public high school that offers it.

SB 254 (Sen. Andrew Brock, R-Davie, and Sen. Norm Sanderson, R-Pamlico, are sponsors) was filed in the Senate. The other bill is SB 159 (Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, Sen. Warren Daniel, R-Cleveland, Sen. Chad Barefoot, R-Wake, are sponsors, and Sen. Andrew Brock, R-Davie, and Ronald, R- Harnett are co-sponsors). SB 159 would go further and require that private and charter school students also be allowed to participate in traditional high school sports/extracurriculars. These kinds of bills are generally referred to as "Equal Access Bills" or "Tebow Bills," after the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback who was homeschooled but played football on his local high school team.

Commissioner Que Tucker sent a letter to Senator Brock on behalf of the NCHSAA Board of Directors outlining concerns about this bill and the negative effect on high school athletics in over 400 high schools in North Carolina.


 An Act to Reestablish the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program
House and Senate have filed bills (HB 339 and SB 252) to establish a new Teaching Fellows program with a focus on attracting STEM and special education teachers to North Carolina. program would begin at five teacher education programs, and would allow individuals with college credit and college degrees to apply for the forgivable loan. Like the former Teaching Fellows program, Fellows would repay their loans through service in North Carolina public schools. Neither the House nor Senate version of this bill have been heard by a committee.

Under these bills, students selected to receive the awards of forgivable loans for up to $8,250 per year will be eligible North Carolina high school seniors, college students transferring or changing to enrollment in one of the selected educator preparation programs, and individuals who hold a bachelor's degree seeking to prepare for teacher licensure. These forgivable loans may be used for tuition, fees, and the cost of books. We are encouraged that the reinstatement of this valuable program in a new form is being considered in this legislative session.


 How do I keep up with Legislation in North Carolina?
To read more details about current bills, to track bills introduced, or to contact representatives of senators, go to http://www.ncleg.net/.


School Start and Stop Time Changes for 2017-18
Elementary School start and stop times for 2017-18 will remain unchanged.
8:10 a.m. - 2:50 p.m

Middle and High School start and stop times will change in 2017-18.
Middle School
7:45 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

High School
8:15 a.m. - 3:25 p.m.

New start and stop times for 2017-18 were incorrectly published in the Davie County Enterprise this week, but will be corrected in next week's edition.


Road Construction Impacting School Traffic
A large scale construction project just started on I-40 this past Sunday night. The project began just west of the rest area and extends to Hwy 601 during the first phase. Single lanes will be closed on each side (east & west bound) of the interstate until about mid-April with construction occurring in the inside and outside medians. Once that phase is complete, all traffic on the interstate will be shifted to the east bound lanes for several weeks while construction is being completed on the west bound lanes. All traffic will then be shifted to the west bound lanes for the same purpose.

This project creates a greater potential for accidents, so please use caution as you travel. If accidents occur and can't be cleared up quickly, traffic will be routed off the interstate onto Farmington Road and or US Hwy 158 which will cause heavy congestion. DOT's plan is to have this phase of construction completed prior to August 15, 2017.


 Construction Update
The new high school is still on budget and on time. We look forward to opening in August and announcing an open house for the community soon!

The DC logo at center court in the new gymnasium

Sincerely,

Darrin L. Hartness, Ed. D.
Superintendent

(336) 751-5921 | davie.k12.nc.us | 220 Cherry St, Mocksville, North Carolina 27028

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