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News Maryland Anne Arundel County Annapolis

Arundel schools receive three-day inclement weather waiver from state

County schools will be open the day after Easter and tack on another day to the school year to make up two days missed this year because of inclement weather.

Officials received a waiver from the state Department of Education last week for three other days.

The school system had built four inclement weather days into its state-mandated 180-day school calendar but used five additional days during an unseasonably cold and protracted winter. Anne Arundel was among several counties statewide that requested waivers from the state from the mandated calendar.

The school system initially asked to have all five days waived, but state Superintendent of Schools Lillian Lowery denied that request.

On Wednesday, the school board approved opening schools on April 21 — the Monday after Easter — after being granted permission from the state to do so. Interim county schools Superintendent Mamie Perkins then opted to add one day to the school calendar, meaning the last day of classes is now June 18.

Perkins then filed a three-day waiver request that was granted by Lowery, Anne Arundel school officials said.

"I just wanted to do everything I could to try and ease that burden for our parents, students and employees while keeping in mind that we have a duty to provide students with as complete an educational year as possible," Perkins said.

School officials said that schools will dismiss two hours early from June 13-18 to accommodate high school exams, and the last day of school for graduating seniors will be May 29.

Earlier, school officials had considered adding three days to the calendar.

School board President Teresa Milio Birge said that in the past, the school system chose to tack days onto the end of the year. Not any more, she said.

"I think we got a message from the state that adding days onto the end of the year is not the way they want us to accomplish making up school days," Birge said. "They would rather us look at finding days inside the school year rather than just adding them onto the end."

Board member Patricia Nalley suggested, and board members agreed, that the school board draft a calendar survey for parent, student and employee input moving forward. School officials said such a survey will likely be available online by the weekend.

School officials said the waiver request does not apply to teachers and other employees, who have a set number of work days within a calendar year as part of negotiated agreements with the school system. School officials said they will meet with school employees about calendar changes, but employees must work the same number of days according to the negotiated agreements.

"It doesn't affect the teachers at all," Birge said. "They still have 191 days that they have to work."

Teachers union officials said they hope the school system would grant it a waiver at the end of the school year so that teachers don't have to make up for the snow days.

"Teachers work hours and hours … over and above what they're paid for," said Bill Jones, executive director for the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County. He said that the school system should "recognize teachers for all those hours they put in for free over the course of the year by eliminating the last two workdays, when students aren't there anyway."

Search advances

County school officials said the system is expected to name its new superintendent by the end of the month.

Officials said a 20-member group of county residents and officials assisting in the search for a new, permanent superintendent has interviewed three finalists for the job and submitted a report to the panel. The finalists are:

•George Arlotto, Anne Arundel schools' chief of staff and former associate superintendent for school performance. He has worked in the school system since 2006 and, before that, served as principal of Wheaton High School in Montgomery County.

Maureen McMahon, AACPS assistant superintendent for advanced studies and programs. She has worked in the school system since 2007 and, before that, was a science education professor and department chair at Califonia State University, Long Beach.

Francisco Durán, superintendent of schools in Trenton, N.J., for the past two years. Trenton's school district has about 12,000 students and about two dozen schools.

School board member Stacy Korbelak said the board will review the 20-member group's report, make a choice, then perform background and reference checks. Contract negotiations with the candidate would follow, Korbelak said.

The school system is scheduled to announce its decision April 23, officials said.

jburris@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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