Howard County school year stretched to June 19 after waiver is rejected

Kate Magill
Contact ReporterHoward County Times

Classes in Howard County public schools will continue through June 19, two days later than planned.

The county school board voted Tuesday to extend the school system’s calendar year by two days, after the state’s school board earlier in the day denied the district’s request to waive the inclement-weather makeup days.

Schools will now hold class on June 18 and 19, with dismissals three hours earlier than usual on June 15, 18 and 19. Half-day pre-kindergarten and preschool programs will not have sessions on those days.

From June 11 to 14, there will be full days of classes and high school exams will be held those days, with one exam June 11 and two exams a day June 12 - 14. No new graded work will be assigned at any level June 15 to 19, according to a statement from the school system.

The final staff day will be June 19.

Schools across the state have been scrambling to find ways to squeeze in the required 180 school days by Gov. Larry Hogan’s mandated June 15 deadline to end the academic year.

“I can’t believe they didn’t waive the days, because this is nonsense,” board chairwoman Cindy Vaillancourt said during yesterday’s board meeting.

Howard County had seven snow days this year, two more than the school system planned for. Its failed request to the state board of education, one of eight school districts to submit one, asked the state to allow a 178-day school year.

“I thoroughly understand that we are between the proverbial rock and a hard place, not by our own doing,” board member Christina Delmont-Small said during yesterday’s meeting.

Many Maryland school systems have struggled to squeeze the required number of school days into a snow-filled year while also complying with the governor’s mandate.

Several area school systems shortened their spring break into a four-day weekend, while others held classes on the Monday after Easter or on President’s Day.

But school systems said there were too many days that schools had been closed for bad weather, from snow to wind storms, to meet the 180-day requirement before June 15.

As the snow days piled up, the General Assembly passed emergency legislation in March authorizing school systems to extend the current school year by up to five days, and Hogan signed it into law.

John Woolums, director of governmental relations for the Maryland Association of Boards of Education, said the denial of waivers for Howard and other districts will force those districts “to run empty school buses and make meals for students who aren’t there.”

“The level of disruption and operational inefficiency will be unfortunate,” he said.

With reporting from The Baltimore Sun’s Liz Bowie.

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