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Waivers related to the School Calendar Law

The North Carolina State Board of Education may grant waivers to the passed legislation.


The School Calendar Law (SL 2004-180) provides two conditions under which a county or city school system may apply to the State Board of Education for permission (called a ‘waiver’ in the actual legislation) to begin classes on a date earlier than August 25.

Waiver Condition #1...Good Cause. This condition was included to address the issue of counties that historically experience an usually high number of days closed due to severe weather. If the waiver is granted, the earlier school start date would apply to all schools located in that school system (other than year-round schools and schools that operate under the ‘modified calendar.’ ......see exemptions to HB 1464).

…….“On a showing of good cause, the State Board of Education may waive this requirement to the extent that school calendars are able to provide sufficient days to accommodate anticipated makeup days due to school closings."

……"For purposes of this subsection, the term 'good cause' means that schools in any local school administrative unit in a county have been closed eight days per year during any four of the last 10 years because of severe weather conditions, energy shortages, power failures, or other emergency situations."

A change in the final bill’s language, as interpreted by legislative staff, may affect counties where one or more city school systems continue to operate separately from the county system. The change provides that where either the county or the city school system within a county is eligible to apply for a waiver under the ‘good cause’ condition, then all school systems in that county would be eligible to apply for permission to begin classes earlier.

Counties where one or more city school systems operate independently from the county system include:

Asheboro City Schools
Asheville City Schools
Buncombe County Schools
Cabarrus County Schools
Catawba County Schools
Chapel Hill City Schools
Clinton City Schools
Columbus County Schools
Davidson County Schools
Elkin City Schools
Halifax County Schools
Hickory City Schools
Lexington City Schools
Iredell County Schools
Kannapolis City Schools
Mooresville City Schools
Mount Airy City Schools
Newton-Conover City Schools
Orange County Schools
Randolph County Schools
Roanoke Rapids City Schools
Sampson County Schools
Surry County Schools
Thomasville City Schools
Weldon City Schools
Whiteville City Schools

School Systems Eligible For Good Cause Waivers
This document provides a by-county breakdown of "closed school" days over the past 10 years. This is the basis upon which waivers are granted. (PDF, 4 pages, 36 k).
Note: many systems eligible for the waiver have CHOSEN not to exercise it.


Waiver Condition #1...Educational Purpose. This condition was included to address the issue of a specific school within a school system that serves a unique educational purpose. The bill prohibits local school boards from attempting to use this section to circumvent the opening and closing dates set forth in the bill for either a specific school or a school system. Specific language dealing with this issue follows:

"The State Board also may waive this requirement for an educational purpose.

The term 'educational purpose' means a local school administrative unit establishes a need to adopt a different calendar for

  • a specific school to accommodate a special program offered generally to the student body of that school,
  • a school that primarily serves a special population of students, or
  • a defined program within a school."

"The State Board may grant the waiver for an educational purpose for that specific school or defined program to the extent that the State Board finds that the educational purpose is reasonable, the accommodation is necessary to accomplish the educational purpose, and the request is not an attempt to circumvent the opening and closing dates set forth in this subsection. The waiver requests for educational purposes shall not be used to accommodate system-wide class scheduling preferences."

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