The Howard County school board will vote this afternoon on adjusting the school calendar to make up for yesterday's snow day, the fourth of the school year.
Under the current makeup schedule, school would remain open March 29, traditionally the first day of spring break. But some officials said that could interfere with the spring vacation plans of families, teachers and other staff members.
Schools spokeswoman Patti Caplan confirmed yesterday that Superintendent Michael E. Hickey would raise the issue at today's school board meeting.
"Mike is hoping that this is going to be the last [snow] day that we're going to take," Caplan said.
Howard County's school calendar designates certain days -- such as Presidents Day -- as makeup days in case of snow closings. But Presidents Day has passed, so the school system is at the point at which it would begin subtracting days from spring break week.
With that in mind, school board members will discuss extending the school year to June 16 to compensate for yesterday's closing. The other three makeup days are June 11, 14 and 15. Had no snow days been used, students would have been out of school for the summer on June 10.
Edward Nawrocki, an Earth science teacher at Howard High School, said that adding an extra day at the end of the school year "makes perfect sense." Naw-rocki said several of his colleagues would be inconvenienced if spring break was tampered with.
"I know people have actually planned exotic vacations," Nawrocki said. "They're locked into air flights at the risk of losing a substantial amount of money. I think it would really be a hardship."
Parent Meg Ferley, who has a kindergartner and a third-grader at Jeffers Hill Elementary School in Columbia, said losing a day of spring break wouldn't affect her family much. But it would affect some of her neighbors who have made vacation plans, she said.
"They would just tend to keep their kids out of school," said Ferley, a University of Maryland employee who was home with her children yesterday because their school was closed. "A neighbor of mine works with teachers. They have made plans, and it would be difficult."
Still, Ferley isn't thrilled about the possibility of a slightly extended school year: "I really wish they would go back to building snow days into the calendar."
But Caplan said the county's old system of incorporating three snow days into the calendar was problematic.
"[One] year that we didn't use them at all, it created a lot of confusion because people didn't know if they were supposed to be going" to school, Caplan said.
Other agencies had their minds on the snow yesterday.
Both Howard County and state police responded to an overwhelming number of collisions during this week's snowstorm. They said the cause was not only the weather, but speed.
County police responded to 115 collisions between 8: 15 a.m. Tuesday and 9 a.m. yesterday, said Sgt. Morris Carroll, a Howard County police spokesman. Usually, they respond to an average of 15 collisions in the same time frame.
"People were traveling too fast for the weather conditions," Carroll said. "Even if the speed limit is 50, it doesn't mean you should travel that fast in this weather."
State police -- who primarily respond to accidents on Interstates 95 and 70 -- said they saw 60 accidents within 12 hours yesterday. State police Sgt. Andrew Smith said the norm is about six accidents in the same period.
Howard County Public Works officials said they used 69 vehicles and 85 workers to clear the county's 915 miles of local roads, encountering no accidents or injuries .
Sun staff writers Larry Carson and Nancy A. Youssef contributed to this article.
Pub Date: 3/11/99