Leaders debating on earlier start date for CMS schools

Supporters say the earlier date could improve student outcomes.
Supporters say the earlier date could improve student outcomes.
Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 12:57 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - When your child starts school in the fall has been a hot topic among school districts and lawmakers.

A bill that would allow Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to start earlier passed in the House – but chances don’t look as good in the Senate.

As it stands, North Carolina law states that school cannot start until the Monday closest to August 26. Next fall, that’s August 28. If this bill passes, school here in Charlotte could be back in session two weeks earlier on the 14th.

[Current CMS calendars]

CMS Board of Education member Lisa Cline said this would allow students to take exams before Christmas break and work toward improving student outcomes. It would also align students with the college schedule, since high school students also take classes there. This was part of the legislative agenda presented to the Mecklenburg County Delegation and to the state. Cline said all CMS Board members support the change.

[Read also: Union County board approves updated academic calendar for 2023-2024 school year]

“The data already shows in states and communities that have this end date before Christmas, that their test scores are higher. I think we will see a change. We will see those test score go up,” said Cline.

But as far as the current bill, Senate President Phil Berger said his chamber won’t be taking up any school calendar bills and issued this statement:

“Any local school board that breaks the calendar law – or is contemplating doing so – needs to think about what example it is setting for students. These elected leaders are telling students that they can pick and choose what laws they want to follow as long as they can come up with some reasoning to do so.

If they knowingly break the law, they should be prepared to defend their decision in court if parents sue the school district.”

Critics of this bill point to a potential negative economic impact on tourism.