Snow Days Melt Away June Days

March 09, 1994

The Howard County school board meets tonight to wrestle with the difficult problem of how to make up the 11 school days that have been lost this year because of snow.

Eleven is the count so far. Even one additional day will make an already bad situation worse. As it is, none of the options available is a good one.

For kids who were gleeful when the first flake of snow hit the ground, there is now a realization that a price will have to be paid in June.

Teachers, likewise, have started to grumble. People who operate summer camps in county school buildings face a logistical jungle as they are forced to readjust schedules and refund money to disgruntled customers. Summer vacations are affected: frustrated parents want to nail down their summer plans as soon as possible.

There are no easy answers, no friends to be won, no panaceas.

The state requires all public schools to hold at least 180 days of classes. Faced with making up eight unplanned snow days (three are in the school calendar), Howard Superintendent Michael E. Hickey is considering two options.

The first possibility is to add on all eight days to the end of the school year, which would require schools to be opened until June 21. With the last two days of school being a Monday and Tuesday, there is little doubt that students will fritter away that class time daydreaming about summer plans or anything other than school.

Another option would be to extend the school calendar to June 17, and then add an hour to the school day for two weeks in April to make up for the remaining two snow days. To do that, Mr. Hickey says he is leaning toward the idea of adding 30 minutes to the beginning and end of the day.

That would require high school classes to begin at 7 a.m., after teachers and students already complained when some high schools opened as early as 7:30 a.m. this year. On the other hand, adding one hour to the end of the school day would require elementary pupils to be dismissed at 4:45 p.m., the beginning of traffic rush hour.

Regardless of which option is adopted, there will be widespread discontent. That is to be expected. For all the enjoyment of a winter's day off, there's a long, dull day in June to make up the difference.

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