Following Governor Larry Hogan’s Jan. 1 executive order, MCPS released the 2017-18 calendar with specific changes to meet the mandate’s requirements. The calendar was approved Dec. 13, 2016 and includes 182 instructional days of school compared to the 2016-17 calendar, which included 184 instructional days.
Governor Hogan’s executive order mandated schools to start after Labor Day, and that all school days must end by June 8. In the window between Sept. 5, 2017 and June 8, 2018, there must be a total of 180 instructional days.
According to the Executive Order, “The Labor Day holiday weekend is an exclusively American institution that has served as our nation’s traditional end of summer,” so therefore “public schools in the State of Maryland shall open for all pupil attendance no earlier than the Tuesday immediately following the nationally-observed Labor Day holiday.”
The adopted calendar added three days of professional development, which include mandatory workshops for teachers in the summer. These days will take place before pre-service week for teachers, the time teachers get settled before school starts, which includes preparing the classroom for student arrival. This reduces the number of professional days for teachers throughout the year, and in turn severely cuts down on a teacher’s planning time.
According to Montgomery County Education Association President Christopher Lloyd’s blog post March 4, 2017, “A reduction in planning time hurts the profession of teaching, and the outcomes we want for our schools and our community.”
The Board of Education President Michael Durso explained that only holidays were mandated until the Executive Order came out in 2016. Considerations for the calendar include marking periods, possible snow make-ups, and teacher planning days.
“MCPS has a Calendar Committee that presents a calendar to the Board of Education for approval.” Durso said.
The updated calendar poses threats for snow-related incidents and reshaping the calendar later on due to emergency weather conditions. According to the mandate, school must end June 8th, 2018, and if MCPS gets a great deal of snow, then the school year would have to be extended, since there are no emergency weather days placed in the schedule.
“I think with the restrictions for 2017-2018, next year will present some problems, especially if we have any considerable amount of snow,” Durso said.
Durso also posted an online letter to Governor Hogan requesting to rethink the Executive Order and how it has affected the layout of the calendar.
“Ensuring adequate time for professional development and teacher planning leads to better outcomes for students,” Durso said in the letter to Hogan. “The compression of the school calendar limits our ability to schedule this much needed professional development and planning time during the regular student calendar year.”
Social studies teacher Elizabeth Seabreeze would rather have more professional days during the year rather than the updated calendar placing them before school begins.
“ I had to change my plans coming back from California this summer to come back before our professional days began,” Seabreeze said. “I think both teachers and students will suffer not having any days off in October.”