Harford County school board

Jillian V. Lader was appointed manager of communications for Harford County Public Schools at Monday's school board meeting. (Harford County Public Schools / The Aegis / February 25, 2014)

Yet another day has been taken away from spring break for students in Harford County Public Schools.

The Harford County Public Schools Board of Education members voted unanimously at their meeting Monday night to send students to school on April 17 – previously slated as a day off for spring break – to make up for an instructional day missed because of inclement weather.

The school system will still have at least one day, and possibly two, left to make up to meet the state minimum of 180 instructional days this school year and be able to close as planned in June without adding additional days at the end of the calendar.

Superintendent Barbara Canavan, who was permanently appointed to a four-year term Monday night, said that to request a waiver for the remaining day or if more snow days are needed, the school system will have to certify to the Maryland State Board of Education that every day possible has been used for instruction.

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"So the proposal before us is to add Thursday as a school day, so that we can make up days that we have used due to inclement weather; that will still leave us one day over and we would have to request a waiver for that," Canavan said during the board meeting Monday night.

Canavan said if the school system does not get a waiver for the other missed day of instruction because of the weather, it will be added to the end of the school year; the last scheduled day is June 13.

Public schools "shall be open for pupil attendance for at least 180 school days and a minimum of 1,080 school hours during a 10-month school year," according to Chapter 7, Section 103 of the Maryland Annotated Code.

Harford students have missed nine days so far this year, not including professional development days when there was snowfall although students were already off. Eight of those days will be made up, four at the end of the year, June 10 to 13, and four during spring break, April 14-17.

April 14 and 15 were slated as inclement weather make-up days, or days off for students. April 16 was scheduled as a professional development day, another day off for students. April 17-21 was originally scheduled as spring break, but the board's decision will only leave students with Good Friday and Easter Monday off for spring break.

Waiver requested for short day

HCPS officials also said they have applied for a waiver from the Maryland State Board of Education to count Feb. 3 a full-school day, following the early closing of schools because of harsh winter weather.

Schools opened at their normal time on Feb. 3, amid weather reports for snow, frigid temperatures and icy conditions. Around 9 a.m., school administrators decided to dismiss students on a special schedule, sparking a wave of anger and concern from parents.

High schools and North Harford Middle, which start at 7:30 a.m., dismissed at 10 a.m. (30 minutes after the last elementary students arrived at their schools); middle schools, which start at 8:15 a.m., and the John Archer School dismissed at 10:45 a.m.; elementary schools, which start at 9 a.m., and pre-K dismissed at 11:30 a.m.; and fourth tier schools, which start at 9:30 a.m., dismissed at noon.

In total, school was held for 2 1/2 hours on Feb. 3.

According to Chapter 7, Section 103 of the Maryland Annotated Code, schools "shall be open for pupil attendance a minimum of three hours during each school day."

HCPS officials said they are hopeful the school board will approve the waiver.

They also noted the State Board of Education's decision on whether to classify Feb. 3 as a full school day will determine if the last day of school for students will need to be pushed past June 13.

New communications manager

The board also appointed Jillian Lader as the school system's manager of communications, beginning on March 17. She replaces Teri Kranefeld, who left in January and who had become the face of Harford County Public Schools for many in the community.

Lader will be paid $97,233 a year, Lindsay Bilodeau, communications specialist said. The position was advertised on the school system website with a salary of $97,233 to $123,030 a year.