Pender Schools to make up 10 days missed after Florence

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Hurricane Florence kept Pender schools closed for up to 30 days

PENDER COUNTY — Pender County Schools students will spend an extra week in school next June to help make up for time lost due to Hurricane Florence.

Tuesday evening, the Pender County Board of Education approved a new 2018-19 calendar for the district. The approved plan makes up 10 missed days of school for most Pender students, and seven missed or lost work-days for teachers.

Pender Schools closed ahead of Hurricane Florence on Sept. 11, and did not reopen until last week. Depending on which schools they attend, students lost 29 or 30 days of class time due to the storm.

State leaders provided a waiver for up to 20 missed days in storm-struck districts.

Among the changes approved by the board were converting to school days the teacher workdays scheduled for Nov. 6, Jan. 22, March 11 and June 10 through 13; and a vacation day scheduled for Dec. 21.

A vacation day scheduled for Nov. 21, the day before Thanksgiving, will become an early release day. The new last day of school will be June 14, which will also be an early release day.

Charles Aiken, the district’s Chief Officer of Instruction, district leaders received about 600 responses in a poll of district parents and staff on how best to make up the days. Options included adding time to the school day, losing teacher workdays, extending the end of the year or Saturday school.

“As you can see from those results, Saturdays are not particularly an option,” Aiken told the board. “That was resoundingly not wanted.”

Board members also objected to adding time to the school day, which member Rochelle Whiteside argued would not be useful at the high school level.

“When you add more time in each class, it gives you just a little more time to do the lesson, but the extra day gives you an extra lesson,” Whiteside said.

Pender County Schools staff who worked through the storm and in hurricane shelters will also get some extra pay for their efforts, thanks to a board decision Tuesday.

North Carolina classifies educational workers into two categories: “exempt” and “non-exempt.” The terms refer to which employees are subject to federal laws about overtime pay and minimum wages. “Exempt” employees are generally teachers, principals and some administrators, while “non-exempt” workers include custodians, cafeteria workers and school nurses.

Per the Pender school board’s decision, all non-exempt staff who worked through the storm and clean-up — up until Sept. 23 — are eligible for a full week of pay and overtime pay for every hour worked beyond that. Exempt staff are eligible for a daily stipend of $100, and some hourly pay based on standards from the state Department of Public Instruction.

Reporter Cammie Bellamy can be reached at