Relative Calm after the Storms

March 15, 1994

The comment popped up more than once during this rough winter -- that Baltimore area school systems ought to seek waivers of the state's 180-day school year requirement so that children aren't making up snow days through June. There is nothing magic about 180 days, but it is a standard that should stick; as it is, students here spend less time in class than their European or Japanese counterparts. Local school systems have acted in children's best interests by readjusting schedules to make up for the lost time.

That has been less of a headache in Anne Arundel than in Howard, Carroll and Baltimore counties, partly because the weather has been less severe here and partly because -- despite its southern exposure -- the Anne Arundel school system built one to two more snow days into the calendar than did the other jurisdictions. Howard and Carroll, which missed 13 days to bad weather, have decided to lengthen the school day instead of the school year, a move that has proven mildly controversial. Baltimore County is still haggling over the matter.

Assuming that winter is over, Anne Arundel will solve its snow days dilemma with little ado. The system lost nine days, four of which were built into the calendar. Of the remaining five, one will be made up March 31, originally scheduled as part of spring vacation, and three more will be added at the end of the school year, with June 17, a Friday, the last day. School officials plan to ask that the fifth day be waived under a state education policy that recognizes there is little sense in having children and teachers return for a Monday.

Now, if the county could fix those potholes . . .

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HAPPY DAY: It was a happy, hopeful day for Annapolis' black community when Anne Arundel County returned to the city the old Stanton School, virtually all that is left of the once-thriving black neighborhood known as the "Old 4th Ward." The school is an emotional symbol to black citizens. By pledging to take care of it and make it a monument to the community, the city and county sent a sign that they are finally starting to listen to the people who have been fighting to save this neighborhood.

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