Decisions on snow day waivers overdue [Editorial]

April 03, 2014|Editorial from The Aegis

The Harford County public school system included seven days in the academic calendar this school year as potential makeup days in case of snow.

Turns out, the school system ended up canceling classes 11 times (or 12 if the state doesn't allow the two and a half hour day to count), which means if the school year ends on June 12, Harford County students will not have attended classes for the requisite 180 days required by state standards.

The school system, therefore, has requested a waiver from the Maryland State Board of Education, which has authorized the state superintendent to grant or deny such waivers.

As of Wednesday, the superintendent had granted waivers for some counties, while delaying action on other requests, including Harford's waiver request for the partial day (Harford had not submitted its request for the other days as of earlier this week).

There's really no reason for a delay on the part of the state. The school system's calendar for this year was approved years ago, and the available days off that can be turned into school days can be clearly seen with no more research than a few clicks of a computer mouse. Maryland has 23 counties, plus Baltimore City. Each has its own academic calendar, and each closed schools during this rather harsh winter because of the weather. It shouldn't take days or weeks of study to determine if a waiver is justified. Moreover, if the state decides it's not going to grant waivers to any county, it should also spell out exactly when students should be in school, beyond what's already on the local calendars.

This winter was a rather unusual one for these parts, and, in the interest of safety, a lot of school closures were justified. It's been known that there would be a need for waivers since at least early February, if not farther back, so there's no reason for decisions on waivers to have been dragged out this long.

Waiting this long only makes the winter seem that much more harsh.

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