Public schools in Baltimore County will begin after Labor Day and end a little later next academic year, the school board decided Tuesday night.
The vote to adjust the calendar requires students to begin school a day after Labor Day and end as late as Friday, June 19, 2020, if there are five or more bad weather days. Spring break would span from Saturday, April 4, to Tuesday, April 14.
The board chose among three options, including two that would start after Labor Day. It settled on the option that provides students with 10 days of spring break but leaves open the possibility that students might have to go to school on Presidents Day and the Monday after Easter if weather is particularly intrusive.
County school leaders were under pressure to create a calendar that would meet the state’s requirement that schools be in session 180 days and 1,170 hours each year for high school. Baltimore County’s current calendar means high school students barely attend enough hours each year to meet the requirement.
In years when schools close too many days because of snow or other weather-related problems, the county must add days or seek an exemption.
Interim Schools Superintendent Verletta White had hoped to solve the problem by adding 15 minutes to each school day, but the extra work for teachers cost $24 million, and that proposed budget was passed by the school board but rejected by County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. as too expensive for the coming year. Months ago the board had adopted a school calendar that was based on the assumption that it would get the money to add minutes to the day. When that budget proposal failed, the school board had to adjust the calendar.
“In order for us to make sure that we have inclement weather built in, we needed to make some changes to the calendar,” said Baltimore County Schools spokesman Brandon Oland.
One solution would have taken advantage of a measure the Maryland General Assembly passed this year that restored local control of the calendar, thus clearing the way to open before Labor Day. Several years ago, Gov. Larry Hogan signed an executive order requiring a post-Labor Day start for all Maryland public schools.
In an unscientific online survey, parents and teachers said starting school before Labor Day this year would conflict with vacation and day care plans.
After rejecting that option, the board chose one that gives students a longer spring break than they had this year.