Mount Airy Elementary School physical education teacher Zach Hinton, left, hands out stickers to remind students what bus they ride on the first day of school Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019.
Mount Airy Elementary School physical education teacher Zach Hinton, left, hands out stickers to remind students what bus they ride on the first day of school Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. (Dylan Slagle)

Those serving on the School Calendar Committee formed last spring expected to receive a lot of community input. But they were surprised when a survey returned nearly 10,000 responses from the public.

The committee used that input to form three potential 2020-2021 calendars with different start and end dates to bring before the Carroll County Board of Education. The board chose to slightly modify the third calendar — which starts after Labor Day 2020 — at its meeting on Sept. 12 and send it back out for community review. The board will accept input for 60 days until its November meeting on Nov. 13.

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Comments and suggestions may be submitted online at feedback.carrollk12.org or by mail to the Superintendent’s Office, Carroll County Public Schools, 125 North Court Street, Westminster, MD 21157.

A link to the calendar is posted on the home page of the CCPS website at www.carrollk12.org.

Committee member Rob Schilling, who led the presentation said jovially, “There was a lot of pent up input that folks wanted to put in there.”

The School Calendar Committee included parents, employees, community members, Community Advisory Council members, and employee bargaining group representatives. Superintendent Steve Lockard tasked them with two things: include a wide variety of stakeholders and recommend a calendar at the end of the summer.

The committee brought back three.

They modeled school starts two weeks before Labor Day, one week before Labor Day and the day after Labor Day in 2020. The Board chose to further modify the third calendar and send it out for comment.

"While the Board of Education welcomes continued feedback on any of the options presented, at its meeting on September 11, 2019, the Board reviewed the three options and agreed to seek feedback on a modified version of ‘Calendar C,’” according to a news release from the school system.

The first student school day is proposed to begin on Sept. 8, 2020. This would have school end on Friday June 18, 2021, though that could vary due to emergency closure days.

The proposed calendars all accounted for four weather-related closures, but the board then asked to release a calendar that counts in four days instead.

From the survey, nearly 53% preferred to always start after Labor Day. About 23% preferred to always start prior. The rest wished to decide year-to year depending on how late in the year Labor Day falls.

Survey results from nearly 10,000 participants showed that 52% prefer that the school year for Carroll County public School begin after Labor Day.
Survey results from nearly 10,000 participants showed that 52% prefer that the school year for Carroll County public School begin after Labor Day.

The Board and superintendent also approved a regulation to reduce the number of early dismissal days from eight to six.

Winter Break is proposed to begin Dec. 23, 2020, with students returning Jan. 4, 2021. Spring Break, including the state-mandated Easter holiday, is proposed to run April 2, 2021 through April 5, 2021, according to the release.

From the survey, 58% of respondents preferred a shorter Spring Break.

Constraints for the committee included the 180 school days for students mandated by state law as well as the 193 days for 10-month employees and 240 for 12-month employees. They could not go over or under these numbers. In order to change them, Schilling said, the public would have to contact their state representatives.

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The committee also had to consider sports teams and marching bands, professional development, standardized testing and concurrent enrollment at the community college among other factors.

Schilling said the process was positive and that many stakeholders learned about the constraints of the calendar and the process.

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