School Board Says Hogan Mandate Cut Into Teacher Planning, Training Time

Governor’s order that classes end by June 15 had “unintended consequences”


Published:

School board President Michael Durso

Via Montgomery County Public Schools

Gov. Larry Hogan this week got a rundown of complications, including lost teacher planning and training time, that Montgomery County Public Schools will face after designing an academic calendar around his mandate to end classes by mid-June.

In a letter dated Thursday, school board President Michael Durso asked Hogan to reconsider the executive order he signed last year laying out guidelines for school calendars across the state. Hogan’s mandate directed schools to begin classes after Labor Day and finish them by June 15 beginning with the 2017-2018 school year. Balancing this rule with state laws requiring 180 instructional days each year  could mean pushing back the scheduled end of school to June 8 so that education officials can fit in five snow make-up days if needed.

“If in Montgomery County we receive no snow … then that means the last day of school for students would unnecessarily be well before June 15, the final date of school established in your Executive Order,” Durso wrote in his letter on behalf of the school board. “We respectfully suggest that the unintended consequence of shortening the school year to June 8, 2018, has not been considered in full, and we ask you to reexamine the issue in coming months.”

The scheduling crunch also limits the amount of time available for professional development and teacher planning during the academic year, Durso wrote. Before the executive order, MCPS scheduled three full professional days for teachers. For the 2017-2018 calendar, the district was only able to include a full professional day in one quarter and resorted to scheduling half-days in two others.

“We know from a vast body of educational research that ensuring adequate time for professional development and teacher planning leads to better outcomes for students,” the letter stated.

Approved Montgomery County Public Schools calendar for 2017-2018. Credit: Montgomery County Public Schools.

Durso concluded by offering to meet with Hogan to discuss the issues further.

Hogan's office pointed to a different culprit for the lack of teacher training time.

"The only thing preventing teachers from receiving training are the unreasonable teachers union contracts that have been stealing classroom time away from children for decades. Montgomery County schools have nine full or partial days off for union service days, where students missed classroom time and parents were forced to alter their schedules or find childcare, on the 2017-18 calendar," Hogan spokeswoman Hannah Marr said in a prepared statement. "Starting school after Labor Day is a common sense change that benefits students, parents and teachers, and has the support of the vast majority of Marylanders."

The school board in late February gave final approval to the 2017-2018 academic calendar, which begins classes on Sept. 5 and ends them on June 12. Because of Hogan’s mandate, the calendar only includes 182 instructional days, two fewer than in previous years. The calendar also identifies five potential snow makeup days. Two of them—March 26 and 27—are spring break days, while a third—Jan. 26—is slated as a professional day. The remaining two would extend the school year until June 15.

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