School board approves 1997-1998 calendar Severe winter may mean cutting spring vacation

March 02, 1997|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,SUN STAFF

The Howard County school board approved last week a calendar for the 1997-1998 school year that will take days out of teachers' and students' spring vacations if next winter is particularly severe.

The board also was told of anticipated changes in the daily opening and closing times of six elementary and two middle schools for next fall.

Under the new calendar, classes will begin Aug. 25 and end June 9. The first day for teachers will be Aug. 19.

The calendar calls for the first day of winter break to be Dec. 24, with students returning to school Jan. 5.

Spring break will begin officially April 10, and schools will reopen April 20. Students also will be off April 9 and will have a half day of classes April 8 to allow for spring parent-teacher conferences.

Spring break could be shorter if schools are closed for inclement weather for more than four days.

The first three days of school canceled because of the weather would be added to the end of the school year. The fourth makeup day would be the scheduled Feb. 16 Presidents' Day holiday.

The fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth makeup days would be taken out of spring break.

Board members said they decided to subtract from spring break for the makeup days -- rather than add additional days to the end of the year -- because they felt the quality of instruction would be better in the spring than in the third week of June.

They also said they recognized that cutting into spring break would cause problems for teachers and students because many families plan vacations and college visits for that time, often purchasing airline tickets that cannot be refunded.

Over the past 11 years, the school system has canceled an average 4.2 days of school per year because of the weather. The years with the most closings were 1993-1994, with 11, and 1995-1996, with 10.

"Everybody, pray for no snow," said Sandra French, board chairwoman.

The changes in the opening and closing times for some schools are tentative, officials said. A second report making the schedules final for the fall will come to the board next month.

Schools where plans call for changes in opening and closing times are:

The two new elementary schools, Fulton and Hollifield Station, where classes would begin at 9: 15 a.m. and end at 3: 45 p.m.

The new middle school, Murray Hill, where classes would begin at 8: 25 a.m. and end at 2: 55 p.m.

Patuxent Valley Middle School, which now opens at 8: 10 a.m. and ends at 2: 40 p.m., would open at 7: 45 a.m. and close at 2: 15 p.m.

Atholton Elementary School would begin 10 minutes earlier, at 9 a.m., and end 10 minutes earlier, at 3: 30 p.m.

St. John's Lane Elementary and Waverly Elementary schools, both of which begin at 9: 15 a.m. and end at 3: 45 p.m., would open and close earlier. St. John's Lane's new times would be 8: 35 a.m. and 3: 05 p.m., and Waverly's would be be 9 a.m. and 3: 30 p.m.

Pub Date: 3/02/97

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