Early School Opening, Midterm Plans Draw Criticism

March 01, 1992|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff writer

A proposal to open schools before Labor Day this fall brought just two critics to a public hearing Thursday on the 1992-1993 school calendar.

The speakers who objected to starting school before Labor Daysaid the early start would interfere with summer vacations and couldlimit summer job opportunities for students whose employers require commitments through Labor Day.

Starting school before Labor Day will increase absenteeism, predicted Stephanie Brown, who identified herself as a 13-year county resident.

Debra Katz, a mother of students at Clarksville Middle School and Pointers Run Elementary School, said, "Most of us consider Labor Day to be the end of summer and plan our vacations on that basis."

More at issue during the hearing was the scheduling of midterm exams in January. The midterms, required this year for the first time under a policy adopted in 1990, got off to a bumpy start, student and teacher representatives from Centennial High told the board.

Students had to cope with studying for midterms, studying for semester exams, taking the Maryland Writing Test, participating in sports and other extracurricular activities and keeping up with regular school work,Centennial student government representative Monica Torrado said.

"There's a limit to what students can handle," Torrado said. "We support the idea of midterms, but they should be at a time with no inter-school activities."

Centennial faculty representative Wren Cronanasked the board

to change the calendar so the second quarter of school would end before midterms. She also asked to have midterms scheduled on three half-days. Students would take the tests in the morning, afternoon classes would be canceled and teachers would grade the tests in the afternoon.

Daniel L. Jett, director of high schools, suggested a similar option to the board.

Jett suggested half-days for high school students on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday ofthe last week in January. The second quarter would end the previous Friday, and extracurricular activities would be on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to allow students to prepare for the exams.

Cronan andKaren Dunlop, vice president of the Howard County Education Association, endorsed Jett's proposal.

The board is scheduled to vote on the 1992-1993 school calendar at its March 12 meeting.

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