District releases statement on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will be in session on Jan. 17, the observance of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, to make up one of three days when schools were closed because of snow and ice. The remaining two days will be made up on Feb. 18 and 21, which had been designated teacher workdays.

Teachers and principals are encouraged to discuss Dr. King and his legacy as part of their lessons on Jan. 17 to help students understand and observe the holiday. In addition, students who entered the CMS Martin Luther King, Jr. Writing and Art Contest can participate in a midday celebration of the holiday at a local community college, and there will be no academic penalty for students who miss class to attend this event.

The holiday was chosen as a make-up day by the Board of Education when it voted on the 2010-2011 calendar two years ago. The calendar for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is set two years in advance. Any changes to the calendar must be approved by the Board of Education. Each calendar designates holidays and specific days for making up missed days of school, as well as the order in which they are to be used. The 2010-2011 calendar lists Jan. 17 as No. 4 on the list of 14 make-up days.

Like other districts in North Carolina, CMS has limited flexibility in setting the district calendar. The calendar must comply with state law, which requires school district calendars to include a minimum of 180 days and 1,000 hours of instruction. The North Carolina General Assembly also requires that school start on Aug. 25 and end on June 10, which further limits local flexibility in setting the school calendar.

There are additional state requirements for teacher workdays each quarter and testing days. Assembling the annual school calendar is not unlike a puzzle, with many pieces set in place before CMS begins its work. Therefore, CMS works on school calendars more than two years in advance and the Board of Education approves them two years in advance.

The calendar process is as follows: A calendar steering committee meets each January to develop four to six potential calendars. The options are based on input from staff and the community, who must consider what is best for students, instruction, the community, and the classroom.

A full committee representing all stakeholders – parents, community members, teachers, principals and other staff – then selects two calendars for each year. Employees and community members indicate their preference in an online poll.

The poll results and recommendations are given to the superintendent, who presents the options to the Board of Education. The Board then votes to approve the calendar.

The Board voted on the 2010-2011 calendar at its May 12, 2009, meeting.