Today is the day that Anne Arundel County's 117 public schools let out 70,000 students for the summer. And although school officials won't have a count on how many seniors graduated for a few weeks, other figures allow them to take stock of another school year.
10 million miles traveled by the county's 480 school buses this year
6.45 million cartons of milk consumed by students
39 teachers retiring
Officials have an idea of how many seniors graduated this year because the schools ordered 4,603 diplomas, although some were extras.
By these numbers, the year has been a typical one for Anne Arundel schools. But the school system has seen more upheaval this year than it has in almost a decade.
The middle school curriculum was found to be out of compliance with state regulations, at one time the budget was $14 million in the red, and the school board spent most of the year looking for a new superintendent.
"This year's been a particularly unusual, particularly challenging one," said Ken Nichols, director of instruction for the Arundel and South River regions. "Now we can breathe easier and move on and get ready for next year."
Shortly after the school year began in the fall, the State Board of Education ruled that the county was violating state regulations by not requiring middle school pupils to take fine arts, health and physical education courses every year. The state ordered the problem to be fixed by midyear, but upon appeal agreed to delay implementation until fall this year.
Meanwhile, officials were trying to reduce a budget that had grown because of unexpected costs in special education and health insurance. The system cut money for instructional materials and slowed hiring. In the end, the deficit was trimmed from $14 million to $4.9 million.
At the same time, the board offered a $300,000-a-year contract to a new superintendent, Eric J. Smith. Smith, who starts July 1, has been the superintendent in Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, N.C., for the past six years. He is expected to shake up a school system that was relatively stable under the same leader - Carol S. Parham - for the past 8 1/2 years.
Changes also are in store for the school board. Four of its eight members will be new this summer. Two members - Vaughn L. Brown and Joseph H. Foster - are stepping aside. One member, Janet Bury, died in April.
The fourth member to be replaced is the board's student member, a post that changes annually.
As the school year drew to an end, officials turned their attention to another issue: traditions that can be more dangerous than celebratory.
For the most part, this meant banning shaving cream.
At several county high schools, students seem to enjoy coating each other in the foamy white stuff on their last day of classes. The tradition, most popular among seniors, usually is carried out in parking lots, and some schools bring out hoses so students can wash off afterward.
But things can quickly get out of hand, principals said. At one county high school last year, a senior's car windshield was cracked after someone threw a can of shaving cream at it.