Howard schools apply for waiver to not have to make up final inclement weather day

Jess Nocera
Contact ReporterHoward County Times

The Howard County Public School System has applied for a waiver with the state Department of Education to not have to make up its fifth and final inclement weather day, according to a schools spokesman.

Four inclement weather days had been built into the 2018-2019 school years in case schools needed to be abruptly closed due to weather. However, Howard schools have been closed five times this academic year.

The 77-school district is seeking for the last day of school to be June 21 after being originally scheduled to dismiss for summer vacation on June 17. If the waiver is denied, all schools will be in session until June 24.

Since November, schools have been closed Nov. 15, Jan. 14, Jan. 30, Feb. 11 and Feb. 20.

The state Department of Education is set to meet April 23 and Howard schools “expect a decision shortly thereafter,” Brian Bassett, a schools spokesman, said in an email.

If the school system receives approval, all students will have 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.

If the waiver is denied and schools must remain open until June 24, which is a Monday, Bassett said the school system will “anticipate a very high rate of absenteeism should that be the case.”

Howard was denied the same waiver last year, having to extend the school year by two days, until June 19. The county Board of Education voted to extend the school year after the waiver was denied.

Last year, nearly 40 percent of the county’s then-57,000 students were absent on the final two days of school. In the two previous years, more than 90 percent showed up for the final two days.

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