School start to delay testing

First Posted: 1/15/2009

LUMBERTON - An extended summer vacation could mean a more anxious Christmas holiday for high school students in Robeson County,
The Public Schools of Robeson County a few years ago moved up the start of the school year to allow time for end-of-semester testing before the Christmas break. Now, because of a new state law, school cannot start until the end of August. That means tests will be delayed until the week of Jan. 16 and students will be asked to recall subject matter after being out of school for more than three weeks.
“I am unclear what this does,” Superintendent Colin Armstrong said. “Does the Christmas break give students more time to study or will they lose what they've learned? Who knows.
“Either way, the staff will do what they need to do to make sure students are successful.”
Tests for students in grades third through eighth will not be affected.
The General Assembly passed a law in 2004 requiring local school districts to start the school year no earlier than Aug. 25 and ordered that school recess no later than June 10. Robeson County adopted Thursday as its start date.
Teachers returned to work last week to prepare for more than 24,000 students. June 8 is the last day of the 2005-2006 school year. The 2004-2005 school year began Aug. 4 and ended May 27.
The bill was pushed by Save Our Summers, a group of parents and educators. Coastal businesses complained they were losing money because families with children go home early to start school in early August. The tourism industry also favored the late start, saying it loses money when vacationers don't have the August option.
The late start is expected to save the school system money. Armstrong estimated that $50,000 will be cut in electricity costs because most of the August heat will be avoided.
“When you don't have 1,000 people at some of the schools, the air conditioning isn't running that much,” Armstrong said.
This is the first year that a school has began its football schedule with students out of school. County Athletic Director Ronnie Chavis said coaches should have more players at practice this week, especially freshmen.
“With school out, we had some kids having problems getting transportation to and from school,” Chavis said. “A lot of the players ride the bus in the morning and stay after school.”
Practice has also began for soccer, cross country, tennis, golf and volleyball. Chavis said the high school coaches were in touch with the middle school coaches near the end of last school year to get an idea of their freshmen prospects.
Chavis said attendance at area football games Friday night should also pick up with students back at school. Five of the six county high school teams began play on Friday,

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