Snow days to shorten break and extend year

2 days waived for system

storm bumps last day of class for kids to June 20

March 30, 2003|By Laura Loh | Laura Loh,SUN STAFF

State education officials relieved Anne Arundel County schools Friday from having to make up two of the nine instructional days lost this year because of snow.

To make up the seven other snow days, schools will be open on five makeup days built into the calendar, including April 17 - which would have been the first day of spring break - and on two extra days at the end of the year. That makes June 20 the last day of school for students.

"I am relieved that we finally have a decision," said Georgiana Maszczenski, chairwoman of the schools' calendar committee. "We have an end point for the year, so we know what we can tell our students, our parents and our staff."

In the weeks after the record-setting snowstorm that buried Maryland, the Anne Arundel school administration has been inundated with phone calls about the calendar revisions from parents concerned about vacation plans and day care arrangements, and teachers trying to juggle summer jobs and studies.

Since late last month, Maszczenski and other staff have been working to craft a plan that would please everyone and one that would be acceptable to the state.

That was when state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick received permission from the state school board to ease up on the requirement that schools be in session 180 days a year.

Although Grasmick had said she intended to grant waivers of up to two days for most school systems, several systems asked for three. That request was denied for Carroll, Harford, Montgomery and Washington counties, but Baltimore County, which took 11 snow days, was granted a three-day waiver.

The waivers are a help. But school systems across the state still are finding it necessary to extend their school year further into summer, which may be a hardship for schools that lack air conditioning.

Some systems, such as Carroll and Garrett counties, have opted to hold classes on staff development days or holidays such as Easter Monday or Memorial Day.

Anne Arundel school officials originally had planned to ask for a one-day waiver and to extend the school year by three days, but they reconsidered and asked for two days.

School officials said many people lobbied them to end the year on Friday, June 20, instead of the following Monday. The last day for graduating seniors is May 22, and the first day of summer school is July 9.

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