By GREG JORDAN
for the Princeton Times
PRINCETON — Parents and students may be surprised by start dates of the 2019 - 2020 school year in surrounding counties.
For the upcoming school year, Mercer County Schools is set to start on August 8. With the 2018 - 2019 school year ending on June 4, Mercer County students have been on summer break for a little over two months.
Teresa Russell, information specialist for the Mercer County Board of Education, said teachers will report back to school on Aug. 5 and the first day for schools is Aug. 8. In Mercer County, for about three to five years, schools have opened on the second Thursday in August.
Mercer County Schools build 12 snow days into the school calendar over the course of the year to make up for lost instruction, Russell said.
“And because we have 12 snow days built in, it has prevented us from having to extend our school year,” Russell added. “In the past two years, we’ve changed our calendars if we did not use those days. We dismissed earlier because we had already had the 180 days required by the state for every school system.”
Some school systems add days at the end of the school year after they publish their calendar, but Mercer County Schools have days built into the school calendar to make up for lost instructional time. Twelve days was chosen by averaging the number of school days missed during last five years, Russell said.
“We try very hard to incorporate enough days so we don’t have to extend the school year,” she said.
If none of the 12 snow days are used or there are some left over when summer break arrives, the school system changes the calendar. A revised one is presented to the board of education so students can be dismissed earlier than what was originally planned, Russell stated.
Last year there were five snow days left over, so students were able to leave school the Friday before Memorial Day.
Other counties’ summer breaks are lengthier. With the 2018-2019 term ending on May 29, students of McDowell County will have had roughly two and a half months of summer break. The set starting date of the 2019-2020 term is August 15 for the county.
In Monroe County, students will be returning to school the latest of the area counties. Set for Aug. 22, students throughout the county will return to the classroom.
Having ended the previous school year on June 6, these students will have 75 days of vacation under their belts.
Across the state line, students in Tazewell County, Va. have had the longest summer break of the area counties. With the previous school year ending on May 21, students won’t return to school until Aug. 15.
The closing dates for the upcoming school year are as follows: Mercer County June 5, 2020; McDowell County June 5, 2020; and Tazewell County on May 19, 2020.