Balto. Co. schools get earlier out for summer

Board of Education OKs four-day waiver granted by state due to weather

March 29, 2000|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

Despite losing school days to two snowstorms and a hurricane, the Baltimore County school system will begin summer vacation four days earlier, thanks to a waiver from state education officials.

The last day of school will be June 9 for students and June 12 for teachers.

Board of Education members voted to approve the scheduling change at its meeting last night.

Unlike some other Maryland school systems, Baltimore County included seven snow days in its calendar. They used all those days and one more when snowstorms and wind-whipped rains hit the area, forcing pupils and teachers to stay at home.

Making up eighth day

Students will make up the eighth day by giving up a day off April 27, a date set aside for teacher development, said Charles A. Herndon, a school system spokesman.

Other school systems scheduled fewer snow days and were forced to consider cutting spring break. In an effort to help those systems, state education officials agreed recently to waive four days, effectively cutting the school year from 180 days to 176.

Rather than have Baltimore County students stay in school longer than others in Maryland, administrators decided to take the four days as well, even though they didn't need them.

"Is there ever enough instruction time?" said Sharon Norman, the school system's director of business, community and parent relations. "Of course not, but we recognize that with human nature being what it is, that when students in other school systems got out earlier than ours, it would appear to be punitive to our students and to our parents."

When parents heard about the state waiver, they called the school system to find out if their children would be dismissed early for summer recess, Norman said.

Many of those parents wanted to know what the last day of school would be so they could enroll their children in summer activities and plan family vacations.

"The reality is that we might have been open an extra week with empty classrooms," said Norman, referring to parents with children in several systems, who might have taken their children out of school rather than deal with scheduling problems.

In the end, Baltimore County school officials decided that taking the four waiver days would be the "most family-friendly" thing to do, said Herndon.

Proposed enrollment policy

Also last night, school board members discussed a policy that would allow teachers and other school staff -- including administrators, cafeteria workers and bus drivers -- to enroll their children in the school closest to where they work rather than the one nearest their home.

The rule would not apply to magnet schools, where children of school employees would need to meet certain academic standards to enroll, officials said.

The policy change, if approved, could allow some school employees to enroll their children at popular schools even if they are overcrowded.

In presenting the proposal to the board, Superintendent Anthony G. Marchione called it a perk that might help help keep qualified teachers and other employees in Baltimore County.

The policy change is likely to be voted on at the board's April 11 meeting.

Deputy superintendent

In other news, Richard M. Milbourne, an area superintendent for the central area, has been appointed interim deputy superintendent after Deputy Superintendent Elfreda W. Massie left to work at an educational publishing company near Chicago.

Milbourne will fill the position until July 1 when Joe A. Hairston, the county's next schools superintendent, takes office.

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