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Currituck High School early release OK'd

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Students get off the bus and head for the gym on the first day of school at J. P. Knapp Early College High School in Currituck, Thursday, Aug. 3. The Currituck school board has OK'd an early release plan for Currituck High School similar to one in use at Knapp.

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Monday, August 14, 2017

BARCO — Currituck County High School students will be dismissed early on Fridays this coming school year under a plan modeled after the practice at Currrituck’s J.P. Knapp Early College High School.

The Currituck Board of Education voted 4-1 at its regular meeting last week to approve the high school calendar, with board member Will Crodick casting the lone “no” vote.

Currituck High School Principal Renee Dowdy presented the proposed 2017-18 calendar for her school to the board for its review at a work session earlier in the day.

Dowdy told the board that “early release” days, which follow the calendar at the district’s J.P. Knapp Early College High School, are intended to give teachers an opportunity to improve core learning for students while also offering opportunities for small group instruction and job shadowing.

Beginning Friday, Sept. 8, and continuing on Fridays in September, October, November, December, January, February, March, April and May, the high school will have early release on Fridays that are not already holidays or teacher workdays. There are 27 of these CCHS-specific early release days on the high school’s calendar for the upcoming school year.

Board member Dwan Craft said school officials need to explain to parents that the high school modeled its early release program on J.P. Knapp’s success with early release.

But board member Will Crodick said some parents are concerned about students being home so long in the afternoon. 

Dowdy said the high school could offer structured enrichment activities for students on the afternoons of the early release days if the board decides those activities are needed.

Crodick said communicating that to parents might help ease some of parents’ concerns.

Board Chairman Bill Dobney said the arrangements parents would need to make for the early release days would be similar to the arrangements they make for inclement weather days,

Crodick replied that making arrangements for inclement weather days is a challenge for many parents. He said the high school’s early release plan multiplies that challenge.

Crodick, who has been a consistent critic of the new school attendance policy the board adopted this past spring, also expressed concern that the early release days could promote truancy. He said students might be tempted not to show up for school at all if they’re only going for half a day — especially under the revised attendance policy.

Crodick has blasted the new attendance policy because it no longer establishes a maximum number of days a student is allowed to be absent from school.

“I’m still concerned about the attendance policy,” Crodick said.

In addition, Crodick said he was concerned about the effect that the early release days would have on bus transportation. He said it would likely increase transportation costs.

But Sandy Kinzel, assistant superintendent, said the transportation impact had been reviewed and it would not cost more to have early release days at the high school.

Dowdy said she had talked to the transportation department and they had assured her they had worked out a plan for peak efficiency during early release days. She said transportation officials said the early release days could actually save the district money on transportation costs.

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