New Public School Calendar Could Lead to Shorter Spring Break

County education officials decry state mandate to start classes after Labor Day


Academic calendar approved by the school board

Via Montgomery County Public Schools

Montgomery County school board members on Tuesday approved a 2017-2018 school year calendar that reserves two spring break days as potential snow make-up dates.

The board conceded that putting vacation days at risk will likely upset students and parents, but said their hands were tied because of Gov. Larry Hogan’s recent mandate that classes begin after Labor Day and end by June 15.

Designing a calendar within these parameters was like “fitting a size 10 foot into a size 7 shoe,” board member Patricia O’Neill said. She suggested that board members voice their concerns to Hogan in a letter accompanied by a “gift-wrapped calendar.” Her colleagues agreed to send the correspondence.

Hogan has argued that starting school after Labor Day will promote tourism and help the economy.

The 2017-2018 school year is set to begin Sept. 5, 2017, and wrap up on June 14, 2018, with spring break slated for March 26 through April 2. The calendar identifies seven days—March 26 and 27 and June 15 and 18 through 21—to make up for any winter weather closures.

The school system could deal with two closures without using any make-up dates because the MCPS calendar is already a couple days longer than required by state law, said Andrew Zuckerman, the system’s chief operating officer. Summer break would be postponed by one day to make up for a third cancellation.

But if there is a fourth weather closure, school officials would have to make “tough decisions” about whether to encroach on spring break or seek a state waiver to hold classes after June 15, Zuckerman said.

Board member Rebecca Smondrowski encouraged her colleagues to inform frustrated parents that a state mandate was the reason for the compressed calendar.

“This is as much the state’s calendar as it is our calendar,” she said.

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