With the state school board having declined Carroll County's request to waive an extra snow day, county school officials turned to their contingency plan to hold classes Good Friday -- but decided to dismiss students three hours early that day and reassured parents that students who stay home for religious observances will not be penalized.
The state board's decision means that Carroll public schools will be open on all three days previously scheduled as spring break, including Good Friday. County school officials had hoped to preserve that day, April 18, as a school holiday and had asked the state board to waive a third snow day to make that possible.
"Although some people still will be upset with the situation, we recognize the situation," Carroll school board President Susan Holt said yesterday at a board meeting. "The board realizes the significance of that Friday. Kids will be out. And those who want to attend religious observances, they'll have the time."
Holt stood by her board's decision to open schools Good Friday, saying that holding classes during the spring holiday was "more beneficial instructionally" than adding a single day -- Monday, June 16 -- onto the end of the school year.
Although Carroll schools will be open Good Friday, students will be dismissed and offices will close three hours early. Nonattendance will be considered an excused absence for students who take in a note from a parent before April 18. Students who complete the school year with no absences other than Good Friday will qualify for perfect attendance certificates.
Carroll school board members had voted this month to open school April 17 and April 21, Easter Monday, to make up five extra snow days beyond the four built into the school calendar. They also accepted an offer from state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick to waive two days from the state's requirement that students have 180 days of instruction and asked for the third waiver day.
But after much discussion about school systems' calendars and the number of snow days built into each county's school schedule, the state board denied requests Tuesday for a third waiver day from Carroll, Harford, Montgomery and Washington counties.
State board members approved Baltimore County's request for a third waiver day, noting that the system had allocated seven snow days in this year's calendar and had added a day to the end of the school year.
The school year for Carroll students ends June 13.
"We're disappointed that the state board did not grant our request for a waiver," Superintendent Charles I. Ecker said after yesterday's meeting. "We don't know why they didn't, but we're disappointed."
In other business, the board appointed a replacement for budget supervisor Walter Brilhart, who will be retiring in June after 30 years in the Frederick and Carroll school systems.
Christopher J. Hartlove, assistant director of budget and fiscal analysis at the University of Maryland, College Park, will begin working for Carroll schools April 28.