Action on longer school day postponed in Baltimore Co.

March 09, 1994|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Sun Staff Writer

The Baltimore County school board postponed last night action on a proposal to extend the school day by 45 minutes during most of the spring to make up for time lost to the weather.

The board agreed to hold a hearing on the proposal before voting at its March 22 meeting. It did not set a time or date for the hearing.

Most board members seemed to favor the extended day proposed by Superintendent Stuart Berger for 40 days beginning April 5, but Calvin Disney, the board's vice president, asked for more time to discuss alternatives.

As things stand, the school year will be extended to June 24, a week after the scheduled closing date, if the board does not find some other way to make up five snow closing days it could not absorb in its regular calendar.

"I think you are going to find that no matter what you do, you are not going to please 50 percent of the people," Dr. Berger told the board. "But you are going to have to pick some plan. It's a no-winner instructionally, anyway."

Deputy Superintendent Anthony Marchione said calls from parents were running about 50-50 on the proposal, half favoring extending the school year over the longer school day.

Ray Suarez, president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County, said an informal poll of teachers found that faculties at 79 schools were against the proposal, 15 were for it and 12 were split evenly. Forty-four schools did not report results.

Mr. Suarez was one of those who asked for a delay. The teachers union would have to agree to any change in the workday.

Mr. Marchione recited a list of concerns, including the effects of the extended day on sports programs, on nearly 4,000 Jewish children who attend after-school religious classes, on teachers' day care arrangements and on students' after-school jobs.

Meanwhile, in Annapolis, the House Ways and Means Committee was scheduled to hear testimony at 1 p.m. today on an emergency bill that would allow local school boards to waive Maryland's 180-day requirement for the 1993-1994 school year if they were convinced that the school system's instructional goals had otherwise been met. Usually, only the State Board of Education can grant such waivers.

Dr. Berger mentioned the bill to the county school board last night but gave it little chance of passage.

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