Howard County schools exhaust snow days, will extend academic year four days to June 21

Howard County students will have to wait an extra four days to start summer vacation this June.

The county school system announced Monday — following the closure of schools that day due to snow and ice — that all four of its “inclement weather make-up days” have been used. As a result, schools will be in session until June 21.


Previously, the system’s 77 schools were scheduled to be dismissed for summer vacation on June 17.

Four inclement weather days had been built in for the 2018-2019 calendar in case schools needed to be abruptly closed due to weather. Schools have been closed four times since November, including Nov. 15, Jan 14. Jan. 30 and Feb. 11.

Students will now all attend for a full day June 18. On June 19, 20 and 21, schools will dismiss three hours early to accommodate high school final exams and allow for teachers to have time to file report cards, complete paperwork and break down classrooms.

With no additional make-up days built into the school calendar, Howard’s school board will have discussions on how to proceed if the school system has any more closures before the end of the year.

Maryland law requires schools to be open for a minimum of 180 days each year. Waivers to that requirement must be approved by the Maryland State Board of Education. In 2016, Gov. Larry Hogan issued an executive order requiring an all public schools in Maryland to open after Labor Day and end by June 15. Last week Hogan said in Annapolis he is staying firm in not undoing his order.

Del. Eric Ebersole, a Democrat who represents District 12 including Elkridge and Columbia, is sponsoring a bill in Annapolis to allow all county school boards in Maryland to have control over determining their school system’s start and end dates and be able to extend a school year without seeking approval from the state Board of Education.

Both Howard County Superintendent Michael Martirano and the school board supports local control over calendars.

In Howard’s 2019-2020 approved school calendar, five inclement weather days have been built in for potential closings.

Last June, Howard’s school year was extended by two days after the school board voted in April to add on the extra days after the school system used up all its inclement-weather days. Nearly 40 percent of Howard’s then 57,000 students did not attend school on the final two days, according to data from the school system.

While 63 percent of students attended the final days last June, in the two previous years, more than 90 percent of students finished out the school year.