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PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — It could be a short summer for high school students in Pender County. Starting classes the first week of August is one option under a proposed school calendar waiver. The reason: the school district wants to implement the Career and College Promise program.

The Pender County School District is looking for a way to allow its students to enroll in college courses while attending high school.

“If you’re going to high school, your high school ends two weeks into January. Well the college starts January 1, so it would be impossible for any child to take a spring course,” school board member Karen Gonazales said. “If we ended our semester in december, then they can take courses along with the college.”

That would require high schools to start August 6, which is three weeks before the middle and elementary schools. The NC Board of Education gave the school district the OK to align its calendar with Cape Fear Community College’s.

The school board is holding public meetings at each of the county’s three high schools to get feedback from parents and the community. Some folks, though, already say they are against changing the calendar.

Surf City Mayor Zander Guy says his town fought for a state law that schools could not start earlier than August 25. He says businesses would lose their high school employees and families would miss out on a few weeks of summer.

“Toursim is one of the leading industries as far as producing income for the economy, and we need to take that into consideration when putting these school calendars together,” Guy said.

School board members say they are looking at all the options, but they need feedback.

“They cannot stay home and then all of a sudden, the day we pass it, say, ‘Well, I don’t like it,’ if they didn’t come to the meeting and express their views,” Gonzales said.

The first of the school district’s public hearings starts at 6 p.m. at Heide Trask High School in Rocky Point. Click here for information on the other two meetings.

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