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Balto. Co. school board yields Opening delayed after Labor Day


The Baltimore County school board gave in to community pressure last night, deciding to open the next school year after Labor Day rather than a week before the holiday.

On another calendar issue, the board learned that the county teachers union is recommending that its members reject a proposal to take a small pay cut in exchange for a slightly shorter school year.

Superintendent Stuart D. Berger said at the crowded meeting that if teachers vote next week to reject the pay cut deal, they would not be paid for the two "snow days" when schools were closed because of bad weather last month.

They also would not work April 5 and 6 -- now designated as bad-weather makeup days.

Dr. Berger said the teachers would be in the classroom June 21 and 22, which the board had proposed cutting from the system's 182-day schedule in exchange for the pay cut amounting to one-third of one percent of the annual salary.

"I think we are to the point where dollars and cents should no longer be the issue," said Ed Veit, president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County. "I think it's a matter of principle."

Members of two other unions representing school system employees would be affected. Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees have voted to accept the deal, while leaders of Baltimore County Instructional Aides and Clerical Employees have recommended acceptance.

While the pay cut has been an emotional issue for the teachers, the proposal to open the 1993-1994 school year a week before Labor Day had irked many families who saw their plans for summer vacations or State Fair participation threatened.

"I'm disappointed that I am forced to choose between my first year in high school and my dedication to 4-H," the board was told last night by an eighth-grade girl who competes in events at the Maryland State Fair the week before Labor Day.

The board, in rewriting the school calendar last night to call for a Sept. 7 opening and June 17 dismissal, made clear that the Presidents Day holiday and first four days of Spring break would be subject to cancellation to make up for any bad-weather closings next year.

"If the calendar opens school after Labor Day, we must make it very clear that the week of March 28-31 can and will be used for makeup days," said board member Alan Leberknight.

Trying to avoid the problems it has encountered with the current and next-year calendars, the board last night agreed that it would settle the 1994-95 calendar this spring.

The board instructed Dr. Berger to make calendar proposals for that year by the end of April.

In other action, the board was to consider a complicated plan to rearrange the "feeder" system that determines what middle and high schools students attend.

In a plan to keep classmates together and give families more choices, Dr. Berger's staff proposed letting some fifth-graders and some eighth-graders choose between middle and high schools, respectively.

The plan would affect students who would graduate to a school different than that of most of their classmates because of boundary lines.

Affected would be a small percentage of students from eight middle and 22 elementary schools.

For example, at Cockeysville Middle School, 95 percent of the students go on to Dulaney Valley High School while the remaining 5 percent -- only 13 students next year -- would go Loch Raven High.

Under the new proposal, those 13 students could stay with their classmates and go to Dulaney.

But they would have to find their own transportation to Dulaney -- at least for the first year.

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