Snow makeup extends school day

March 16, 1994|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Sun Staff Writer

Howard County students will go to school 30 minutes longer each day for four weeks to make up for two of the days lost to bad weather, a schedule that will let them end the school year on June 17.

Reversing its decision last week, the board also decided yesterday to restore April 4, the last day of spring break, as a holiday.

The change involving Easter Monday came after complaints from parents and teachers who had made vacation plans. Originally, the school board had decided to extend the school day by 30 minutes for two weeks rather than for four weeks.

"We couldn't possibly hold people hostage on their financial commitments," said Dana Hanna, chairman of the school board. "There were also problems with employee groups on what type of pay they would receive. The complications were becoming greater than we . . . anticipated."

Under the new plan, students will go to school for an additional 30 minutes at the end of each school day from April 11 through May 6. That will make up for two snow days and permit the school year to end on a Friday instead of a Tuesday.

Howard County schools closed on 11 days because of ice and snow this year. School officials, who had planned for three, already had added six days to the end of the school year to make up for lost days.

Among other changes in the school calendar as a result of this year's weather:

* Parent-teacher conferences scheduled for the week of April 11 have been canceled. The conferences would have required elementary, middle and Cedar Lane School students to be dismissed two hours early.

* The third marking period has been extended from March 24 to April 12.

* The two-hour-early dismissal scheduled for March 25 has been eliminated and will not be rescheduled.

* Dates for graduation ceremonies will not change because rescheduling them would pose problems at such sites as Merriweather Post Pavilion and the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

"For us to move graduation to gain time at the end of the year is of questionable value to seniors," Superintendent Michael E. Hickey said. "At least we are getting some additional instructional time in for them, and we feel that is important."

Although some parents had urged him to do so, Dr. Hickey did not schedule makeup days during spring break because it has been the school system's practice to schedule them at the end of the school year. The school board will discuss next month whether the county should start scheduling snow makeup days during spring break.

"In reality, it's probably an exercise in overreaction," Mr. Hanna said. "The year we've just experienced exceeded anything in anyone's memory. . . . To redesign our entire approach to the calendar based on one time in many, many years' experience might be overkill, but we will look at it."

Dr. Hickey had proposed earlier extending Howard's school day by an hour, but board members were concerned that high school students would have to get up too early and that elementary school students would get out of school during the afternoon rush hour.

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