Baltimore Teachers Union files grievance over potential loss of spring break days off

The Baltimore Teachers Union has filed a grievance against the school system arguing that next year’s academic calendar threatens to violate its contract.

The 2018-2019 calendar designates the first two days of spring break as potential “inclement weather recovery days.” The union contract requires that teachers get a vacation of five consecutive days each spring.


Union President Marietta English said the uncertainty around whether teachers will get a full break hinders them from planning ahead — whether it be by scheduling trips or arranging child care.

“It’s very disturbing to staff,” she said, “when you’re looking at the possibility of spring break being taken away even when you know, contractually, that you have five days.”


After a snow-filled winter, Maryland school districts are taking two routes to meeting the state's 180-day instructional requirement. They'll either extend the school year or seek a waiver from the state.

The calendar, which has been approved by the school board, schedules spring break for April 15 through April 22. If the district closes schools one day for inclement weather, class will be held on President’s Day. Any additional emergency closings would eat into spring break.

The union is demanding that the board reconfigure the calendar to ensure that next year’s spring break lasts five days.

A city schools spokeswoman, Anne Fullerton, said she could not comment on the specifics of an open grievance. But she said that in crafting the calendar, the district balanced “legal requirements, contractual obligations and our priority of ensuring strong teaching and learning for students.”

“This is the plan we have determined is the best option to meet all of those requirements,” Fullerton said.

Districts across Maryland have struggled to plan their calendars since Gov. Larry Hogan issued an executive order in 2016 that required schools to fit their mandated 180-day instructional period between Labor Day and June 15.

An unexpected number of bad weather days this school year left some districts unable to squeeze their school year within the governor’s parameters.

The Maryland State School board gave Baltimore County high schoolers a break, saying they didn't have to return to school for an extra day at the end of the year.

The Maryland General Assembly approved emergency legislation — signed by Hogan — that allowed districts to extend their school years for up to five days beyond June 15 to make up the snow days.

But going forward, school systems are still required to include at least three make-up days for emergency closings in their Labor Day-through-June 15 school calendar, under recent guidance from the state superintendent.

That has made for difficult choices, especially when planning for next year: Schools are required to close on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6.

When Baltimore school officials planned next year’s calendar, they decided to include more professional development days for teachers, and not designate them as part of the inclement weather recovery plan. Instead, spring break days were chosen as potential makeup days.

“Our feeling is that [professional development] needs to be there,” Fullerton said.

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