School year is one day short? Add it to next

Gov. Larry Hogan’s executive order on the school year start and end dates demonstrated that the administration does not know how schools are impacted to make up for missed instructional time as demanded by the state (“Snowed: How a silly political gimmick is causing havoc for Maryland teachers, students and parents,” March 21). School districts are hard pressed to create consensus around this issue because schools are impacted so differently.

The differences from one school to another and even within a building are so vast there was no way to advocate for one choice over another, therefore the choice which must be made will create more dissatisfaction with the credibility of the state and the local governments’ ability to work together for a common solution.

Baltimore County Public Schools asked for waivers for these hours, but the State Board of Education has not been granting waivers to anyone this year. These are the choices available to BCPS to make up the hours: opening schools on June 18 and 19, adding 15 minutes to 32 days and lastly, if the state school board allows it, opening schools on Memorial Day and extending five school days by 15 minutes.

From past experience, the local school system can do whatever they wish. Teachers will be on duty. Absenteeism rates will be the highest for the year with many children not attending. These days are “instructional” traditionally with end of year games that should be connected to curriculum. I do not think the eight hours Baltimore County needs to make up are going to make a difference in the academic year. I can accept that a week of make-up instruction is beneficial to the kids, but eight hours at the end of the year is not productive.

The cost of changing bus schedules, paying additional salaries and the hardship for families and teachers who use day care is underestimated by the administration. As a proactive solution, with the state’s approval, Baltimore County should advocate for adding eight hours to the 2018-2019 school schedule as a carry-over, thereby saving needed tax dollars and creating a true learning opportunity for students.

Rebecca Colt-Ferguson

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