Maryland Refuses to Budge to Common Sense and Pass the MCPS Waiver; Snow Days Elongate School Year


After this winter’s “Snowzilla,” waiving the superfluous state-mandated days of school was not an option for MCPS. Unlike the exempted Prince George’s county, MCPS is forced to add two extra days, with the last day of school scheduled as a half day Monday, June 20.

Interim Superintendent Larry Bowers submitted a proposal March 16 to waive two of the six accumulated snow days. This waiver was denied, subjecting all MCPS students and faculty to yet another day in an already completed school year.

While high school students and faculty members still have this day scheduled on the calendar, many students will not be affected as it is a make-up exam day that is not mandatory for all students. However, it is a precedent that could most definitely take effect in the future.

Elementary and middle schools will be especially affected, because those students are expected come to school that day. This will apply to all grade levels, even as final exams are inevitably discarded in the coming years.

John DiFonzo is a graduating eighth grader at Earle B. Wood (Wood) MS. DiFonzo will be forced to miss out on both the end of the year Kings Dominion trip and his eighth grade promotion ceremony as a direct result of the extended school year.

Tacking on this day simply forces students and faculty members to push around summer plans to accommodate the compulsory standard. Exams and critical instruction were not postponed, meaning that the lack of instruction time has already been dealt with; students will have already learned, applied and tested their knowledge, regardless. Therefore, education-wise, it is almost certain that nothing remotely effectual will happen on the last day of school, as usual.

“I think it’s really silly because I feel like so many kids aren’t going to be here, and it’s hard for people like me who have a summer job; I do summer art camp, and it’s going to start on Monday, so I’m actually going to have to get a substitute for my art camp so that I can be here on the last day with my students,” Wood MS art teacher Cynthia Morrell said.

George Carmi is a social studies teacher at Wood MS and the Elected Faculty Representative of the Montgomery County Education Association. Carmi said that underfunding is one of the big issues affecting the county and it is totally inappropriate to have the last day of school unwaived, considering the lack of turnout expected of students.

“We are going to open up all the schools across the county, put the electricity on and all that stuff and it is going to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to have one extra day when, what’s really going to transpire in the last day of school? We are not going to have a rigorous test that day; it’s just going to be videos and kinds of things of that nature; so I’m not really a big fan of it,” Carmi said.

If it were not enough that the last day of school falls on a grueling Monday, the day itself is not even a whole, but a half day. The fact that productive instruction rarely even takes place on regular half days goes to show how fruitless this last day of school will be. (53)

While some can and will sit through the last day of school with relative ease, the waste of time is not the only problem. MCPS is also tasked with the standard costs that come with maintaining the hundreds of schools in its jurisdiction. This means that electricity, air conditioning, free and reduced meals and all of the necessary faculty to run the school, must be there and paid for accordingly.

This money, which could be serving a greater purpose, is instead unwisely being spent on what amounts to babysitting thousands of MCPS students, or at least those who care to show up at all.

Maryland should waive the last day of school because it is an unnecessary addition to the already strenuously long school year. By this stage in the year, it is completely safe to say that whether or not students have had the optimal amount of time to learn is not the question at hand, but how the residuary effects of snow are able to merely inflame a problem within a broken system.