To make up for two school days that were canceled last week because of power outages and flooding caused by the remnants of Hurricane Floyd, Howard County school officials have extended the end of the school year by one day and are requiring students to attend classes on Presidents Day.
Superintendent Michael E. Hickey made the decision to close all county schools last Thursday and Friday after high winds and torrential rains flooded major roads and left 17 of the 66 public schools without electricity.
Schools spokeswoman Patti Caplan said yesterday that Feb. 16-- scheduled as a holiday on the school calendar -- was set aside as a makeup day for students in case of inclement weather. That day will be used for the Thursday cancellation, and an extra day was added to the end of the school year to make up for Friday.
School officials say that extending the school year is necessary because the state requires students to receive 180 days of classroom instruction. The last day of classes now will be June 14.
"If schools are closed again because of the weather, additional makeup days will be tacked on to the end of the school year," Caplan said.
She said that officials "planned for up to eight days" of inclement weather that might force schools to close. If all of those days are used, students would attend classes until June 22.
"Hopefully, we won't have to use all of those days," she said.
At one time, the school system incorporated three snow days into the academic calendar to be used during inclement weather. That practice was eliminated several years ago, but some parents are in favor of having it reinstituted.
"I think it would be really nice if they added snow days," said Amy Jaffe, parent of a fifth-grader who attends Clarksville Elementary School.
"We get inclement weather not only in the winter, but the fall as well," says Jaffe. "I think it's very unfortunate that they've added an additional day to the school year."
The last school calendar was extended by six days after snow forced schools to close.