Schools trying to recover lost days

Classes on holidays an option due to snow

Carroll County

March 03, 2003|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,SUN STAFF

Scrambling to find ways to make up five snow days and concerned that more wintry weather might be on the way, Carroll County officials have asked the state schools superintendent to allow them to shorten the school year and open schools on remaining state holidays.

School board members will not decide until the middle of the month or next month how to make up snow days beyond the four that were built into the school calendar. But they have agreed to ask Maryland Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick for every available option and weigh them later.

The state school board granted Grasmick the authority recently to shorten the academic year by two days and to open schools on state-mandated holidays to help local school systems make up time lost to last month's record-setting snowstorm.

"I'd ask for all of them," Carroll school board member Laura K. Rhodes said, "so that when we're actually sitting down to vote, we have all these days to play with."

Carroll administrators scheduled four snow days for this school year, a number reduced a few years ago after mild winters left the impression that four snow days were plenty for Maryland. And given recent balmy winters - during the past two years, Carroll County had not used a single snow day - this year's school calendar includes detailed plans of how to convert unused snow days into extra vacation for teachers and students.

But this winter has been different, and like every other Maryland school district, Carroll County is over budget on days missed for inclement weather.

More snow was falling last week as school board members discussed how to provide the state-mandated minimum of 180 days of instruction.

"I think it's safe to say that there are more snow days to come," said Stephen Guthrie, the district's assistant superintendent of administration, "given what's falling outside and what's likely to come."

Guthrie said board members could choose from any combination of five options. Those included adding days to the end of the school year; requesting the state waiver; opening schools Good Friday, Easter Monday and Memorial Day; opening schools on the remaining school system-approved vacation days of March 14 and April 17; and lengthening the school day.

He asked the community to weigh in by e-mailing their comments to or sending them to the superintendent's office at 125 N. Court St., Westminster 21157.

Carroll Superintendent Charles I. Ecker contemplated the prospect of an extended school year and joked that he is planning fireworks displays for students at the county's seven high schools for lunchtime on the Fourth of July.

"That rumor's already going around," school board President Susan Holt cautioned.

School board members will debate the length of the school year at their meeting March 12.

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