Memo-01-10-2017-Item-14

January 10, 2017

MEMO TO:        Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

FROM:             Frank A. Rush, Jr., Town Manager

SUBJECT:       Resolution Supporting Current School Calendar - (Summary & Suggested Motions)

The Board of Commissioners is asked to approve the attached resolution supporting the current school calendar in North Carolina.  Under a 2004 law and an amendment approved in 2012, NC schools cannot begin the school year earlier than the Monday closest to August 26. 

As you know, current State law was approved in response to many school systems beginning school in early August (and even late July), and the earlier school start dates were having a negative impact on tourism prior to 2004.  In 2004, State law established an August 25 school start date, and that date was in effect until 2013, when the State law was tweaked to result in school beginning no earlier than Monday, August 23 and no later than Monday, August 29 each year, depending on which day of the week August 26 happens to fall on each year. 

As you know, this issue is of critical importance to the tourism industry in Emerald Isle and Carteret County, and the Town previously expressed its support for the 2004 and 2012 legislation.  In fact, Carteret County room occupancy tax revenues for the month of August increased by more than 36% from 2005-2008 (after the change) over the 2001-2004 revenues.  The availability of most of August for family vacations makes a big difference on the State and local economy. 

There have been several attempts in recent years to undermine the 2004 and 2012 legislation, and fortunately none of those efforts have been successful in allowing an earlier school start date.  There are new efforts underway to promote an earlier school start date, and the NC House Education Committee recently approved House Bill 12 during a special session in December 2016.  House Bill 12 would enable the local Board of Education in each school district to establish a school calendar that matches the local community college, and most community colleges begin their school year in early or mid-August.  The fate of House Bill 12 is uncertain when the NC General Assembly reconvenes for the long session later this month, however, it is likely that these efforts will continue this year and in the future.  Thus, it is important for the Board of Commissioners to make Emerald Isle’s position known to Governor Cooper, Representative McElraft, Senator Sanderson, and the NC General Assembly. 

I recommend approval of the attached resolution.