Summer Slips to Snow Days


Friday, June 17, 2016 was scheduled to be the last day of the MCPS 2015-16 school year. However, as of March 8, the school year has been extended to Tuesday, June 21 because of six snow days, going over the MCPS limit of four. The county has yet to decide whether or not to send in a waiver to excuse the make up days.
Maryland state law requires all public schools to have a minimum of 180 instructional school days. The MCPS 2015-16 school calendar has 184 days of school, with four additional days built into the school year for emergency school closures. This allows MCPS to close schools four times and still meet the state requirement. Any extra days of closure will lead to additional instructional days added to the end of the year.
Due to the longer school year, MCPS has extended the third and fourth marking periods. The third marking period’s professional day will remain on March 24, the day before spring break, but the marking period will officially end Friday, April 8. The fourth marking period will begin Monday, April 11 and end Friday, June 17.
“It would make you reevaluate the things that you’re teaching and the way that you’re teaching them. But if you have to extend the school year, then you can stretch things out. If you can’t, then compact it,” social studies teacher Beth Seabreeze said. “Teachers always have the ability to make it work, no matter what.”
The county usually waits until after the winter season to submit a waiver. MCPS does not plan to open schools on holidays, reduce spring break or cancel planned professional days, like they did last year.
“Every year, the School Year Calendar Committee, which includes students, staff and parents, meets to discuss the best way to build a calendar that provides students with the maximum instructional time,” Derek Turner, Director of the MCPS Department of Public Information and Web Services, said, “The feedback gathered and analyzed by the committee showed that contingency days should remain at the end of the year for this year.”
Last year, Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Lillian Lowery approved a plan that allowed MCPS to go two days under the required 180 days. The 2014-15 school year had seven snow days. Former Interim Superintendent Larry A. Bowers submitted a waiver to make up the three days. However, MCPS ended up receiving a waiver for only two of the three days and had to make up one instructional day at the end of the school year.
“I think it’s a great idea [to extend the year]. We missed a lot of school, which means we missed a lot of crucial material that teachers are cramming to fit back into the schedule,” junior Alia Ghanem said, “But I tend to prioritize school over two days of vacation.”