School year waivers are granted

April 01, 1993|By Mark Bomster | Mark Bomster,Staff Writer

A reluctant State Board of Education waived Maryland's mandatory 180-day school year requirement yesterday for six counties forced to close school more than expected this year because of bad weather.

After a lengthy debate, during which board members stressed the importance of a full school year, the panel approved one-day waivers for Howard, Harford, Frederick and Worcester counties, and three-day waivers for Garrett and Washington counties.

Separately, state school Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick said she has approved a one-day waiver for the Maryland School for the Blind, which does not require a board vote.

Baltimore County Superintendent Stuart D. Berger said last week that he would ask later for a two-day waiver.

State law requires a minimum school year of 180 days. The board's bylaws also require school districts to set aside three to 10 days each year to cover days lost because of bad weather.

But a number of school districts ran out of snow days anyway, as a result of this year's unexpectedly severe weather. Garrett County, for example, built 10 days into the calendar, but already has lost 13 school days because of the weather.

The four districts that sought one-day waivers argued that they would have been forced to end the school year on a Monday in order to comply with the 180-day requirement, one of the grounds cited in the state bylaw as a reason for a waiver.

The board reluctantly went along with that argument, and several members said they then felt compelled to grant the extensions for hard-hit Garrett and Washington counties.

But the debate also gave board members a chance to voice their frustration with the current 180-day school year, which several members say already is too short.

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