Baltimore Co. schools extend hours

April 06, 1994|By Ed Brandt and Glenn Small | Ed Brandt and Glenn Small,Sun Staff Writers

An article on extended school days in Wednesday's editions incorrectly identified the ending date of Carroll County's extended day. Extended days in Carroll County will continue through May 19.

The Sun regrets the errors.

A quarter moon was glowing, and there was an hour and 15 minutes left until sunrise when Eve Deinlein arrived at Perry Hall High School with her daughter, Melissa, and a friend, Belinda Weltz.

At 5:30 a.m., a school bus with Edward Smith behind the wheel trundled into the driveway to pick up the two girls, who were still mourning the early hour.


"I hate this," said Melissa.

"This is ridiculous," said Mrs. Deinlein.

All things considered, it was a no-smile morning for Baltimore County's 95,000 students, who began their exertions a half-hour early yesterday as the school system put into motion its plan to make up for five school days lost to Maryland's bitter winter.

Through May 31, schools will stay open 45 minutes longer than normal, starting 30 minutes earlier and ending 15 minutes later. For Melissa and Belinda, the system's earliest bus riders, the 30 minutes in the morning were the worst.

"That was a half-hour of sleep," Melissa said glumly.

"It was just a little too early," Belinda said. "I just laid there."

Both are 14 and ninth graders at Western School of Technology and Environmental Sciences in Catonsville, a magnet program that attracts students from around the county.

Ahead was an hour-plus bus ride, during which Mr. Smith would pick up students at Overlea, Kenwood and Patapsco high schools and deposit them at Western, which starts classes at 7 a.m. to accommodate bus schedules at other schools.

It was routine for Mr. Smith, who has been driving school buses for 27 years.

"A half-hour didn't make much difference to me," he said, "except I had to miss half the Duke-Arkansas basketball game."

At the other end of the day was Fort Garrison Elementary school in Stevenson, which didn't dismiss its students until 3:55 p.m.

Several parents and a baby-sitter waiting to pick up children said the extended school day made little difference to elementary school youngsters.

"It's actually more convenient for me," said Jill Levien, a baby-sitter waiting to pick up two elementary school children. "I have a job during the day. I can leave later."

"I don't think it affects the elementary children too much," said Susan Grilli, while waiting for her 5-year-old daughter. "But I do think it affects the middle and high school students."

She noted that her 11-year-old son had to get up at 6:15 to be at his desk at Pikesville Middle by 7:25.

"My son did it," she said. But she quickly added, "This is the first day."

Lois Balcer, principal of Fort Garrison, reported no problems with late students or other mix-ups. "It's fine," she said. "As a matter of fact, the teachers are enjoying the extra time."

Myra Treiber, spokeswoman for the county school system, said things went smoothly overall, given the potential for grumpiness.

"I haven't heard of any major uprisings," she said.

She did say that a group of Parkville Senior High School students were circulating a petition, complaining that students with after-school jobs would be late because of the added 15 minutes. As a result, some high school students will be allowed to leave school on time to get to afternoon jobs, Ms. Treiber said.

Altogether, Baltimore County students missed 12 days of classes because of bad weather, but the county was able to accommodate all but five of them through scheduling and shortened vacations.

Two other counties have extended their school day during the spring to make up for snow closings -- Howard by 30 minutes from April 11 through May 6 and Carroll by 50 minutes from March 21 through April 29. Carroll also is splitting its extended day.

Baltimore City eliminated its Presidents Day holiday and extended the school year to June 17 from its scheduled closing of June 8. Anne Arundel County shortened its students' spring vacation and extended school by three days to June 17.

Harford County shortened spring vacation, will extend school by one week until June 17 and will ask the State Board of Education to waive one day.

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