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Union County Public Schools moves opening nearly three weeks earlier


The Union County school board unanimously approved a new calendar Tuesday morning that starts classes Aug. 9, almost three weeks earlier than the Aug. 28 date set by the state's school calendar law.

Board member Gary Sides said he made the motion because students and faculty would benefit from being able to wrap up first-semester exams before winter break.

"I understand it is a change for families. It will be a short summer this year. But it will be made up for the next summer," Sides said in the meeting.

Superintendent Andrew Houlihan said the earlier start is embraced by principals and teachers on his advisory council.

The vote took place in a special 8 a.m. meeting announced Monday. It’s part of a trend among Charlotte-area districts that have decided to defy the restrictions set by state law. Gaston, Cleveland and Rutherford counties started early this year without state approval, and Cabarrus County voted in September to do the same in 2023.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials talked about an earlier start but ultimately decided to open Aug. 28.

State officials could give school systems more flexibility on when they start the academic year. The current system is opposed by many districts that want to start earlier, both to finish exams before winter break and synchronize their calendars with local community colleges.

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Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.