Superintendent approves plan to lengthen days for snow makeup

March 11, 1994|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Sun Staff Writer

The state school superintendent has approved Carroll County's plan to lengthen the school day for students as a way of making up time lost to snow and ice.

The Carroll County Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday morning to lengthen the day starting March 21. By (( early evening, state School Superintendent Nancy Grasmick also approved the plan.

Alarm clocks all over the county will have to be reset as students must arrive at schools 20 minutes earlier. They'll finish the day 30 minutes later.

But the good news is that they'll finish the school year by June 17, instead of June 27.

Carroll and Howard counties were the first in the Baltimore area to go with the longer day when their school boards voted Wednesday.

Four other counties in the state also have done so: Washington, Frederick, Montgomery and Queen Anne's.

Carroll Superintendent R. Edward Shilling and others who support the plan say students will be more likely to benefit from the longer day than from extra days tacked onto the end of the school year.

In the third week of June, children often leave for camp or family vacations and the remaining students are not attentive when the temperature rises, proponents of the plan said. Half the schools in Carroll have no air conditioning.

The Maryland Board of Education approved Washington County's plan last week and gave Dr. Grasmick authority to grant waivers to other counties that meet the rigor of the Washington County plan, said Ronald Peiffer, spokesman for the Department of Education.

When a proposal comes in from a county, Mr. Peiffer said, "We sit down and do the math on it, to make sure the time is covered. Usually they will build into the plan some assertion that they will make all of the time instructional time, with some sort of data to evaluate whether this was a successful way to go."

He said Dr. Grasmick has not turned down any counties that have asked, although department staff have worked with the locals on some details before they were approved.

Carroll County parents at the meeting Wednesday said their first choice would have been a waiver of the 180-day requirement, but school board members and Mr. Shilling showed no desire to apply for one.

To qualify for a waiver under state regulations, the schools would have to add five days to the school year, ending June 24 instead of June 17.

Other requirements for the waiver are that a school system have at least three snow days built into its calendar and use spring breaks, minor holidays or other days available. Carroll County schools have taken both those measures.

The longer day, however, could eliminate the need to go past June 17, as long as no more than two more days are missed for snow through spring.

Here's how it works: Each day, students go to school 20 minutes earlier and leave 30 minutes later. The time must be spent in instruction, but other than that, principals have discretion in how to distribute the extra time among subject areas.

Each week of longer days will make up for one missed seven-hour school day. Carroll so far must make up six days, which will take 42 days of the longer schedule.

If school is called off further for snow or ice, students would continue the longer schedule for up to two more weeks, as late as through the end of the school year.

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