Storm may have buried hope for long spring break


Going, going, gone!

Baltimore County schools' once-luxurious 10-day spring break may have melted into a four-day Easter weekend.

Buffeted for weeks by the wind and snow, the calendar is reeling again after the weekend storm closed schools yesterday and today and cut more deeply into spring break.

The county schools now have four snow days to make up and nowhere to go but into the spring vacation, once scheduled for April 3 through 12. So it looks as if schools will be open through Thursday, April 8.

"That takes care of the whole vacation," said Myra Treiber, as she confirmed today's closing -- the result of snow-covered secondary roads. "Except that it's not over," she cautioned.

It seems inevitable that schools will be open Monday and Tuesday, April 5 and 6, she said. But whether the other two days will be April 7 and 8 or June 21 and 22 depends how the Teachers Association of Baltimore County (TABCO) votes this week on a controversial contract amendment.

There's also talk in some school districts affected by snow days of asking State Superintendent of Education Nancy S. Grasmick to waive the 180-day requirement.

The Baltimore County teachers will be voting on whether to trade one-third of 1 percent of their annual salaries -- less than a day's pay for most -- for two school days, June 21 and 22, at the end of the year. Superintendent of Schools Stuart Berger and the school board proposed this change to save $1.3 million, after County Executive Roger B. Hayden ordered $6 million cut out of this year's school budget.

Although little is certain at this point, it seems that if the teachers accept that change, the school year will end June 18, but school will be in session April 5-8, explained Mrs. Treiber.

If they reject the proposal, as the union's leadership has suggested, the school year will end June 22 and schools will be closed April 7 and 8 -- preserving part of the spring holiday. In that case, the teachers will lose two days' pay through retroactive furloughs for two days on which schools were closed for snow in February.

"We'll just wait until TABCO votes," said Mrs. Treiber, pointing out that the original calendar indicated that April 5-8 could be used as snow makeup days. Good Friday, April 9, and Easter Monday, April 12, are state-mandated holidays.

Many teachers, parents and students have made -- and paid for -- extensive vacation plans for spring break, which, had the weather cooperated, would have started after school on April 2.

"Of course, the state superintendent could waive days because of snow in certain parts of Maryland," added Mrs. Treiber.

The school board dismissed that option several weeks -- and two snowstorms -- ago.


Here is a breakdown of school closing days and calendar changes in the Baltimore metropolitan area:

Anne Arundel: Today is the third snow day out of four provided, so no calendar changes are necessary (Anne Arundel schools opened the week before Labor Day).

Baltimore City: Today is the third snow day for city schools. The school year will be extended by three days, with the last student day being Monday, June 15, instead of Thursday, June 10.

Baltimore County: Today is the fourth snow day. The original calendar had two extra days and a designated makeup day in early February. However, because of calendar changes approved by the school board, all four days must now be made up, either either during spring break (April 5 to 8) or at the end of the year in June.

Carroll: Today is the sixth snow day; the calendar provides for three. The Carroll County Board of Education will decide, probably next month, whether to make up the days in June or ask State Superintendent of Education Nancy S. Grasmick for a waiver on the required 180 school days.

Harford: Today is the fifth snow day and there were four days in the calendar, so a day will be added in June, school officials say.

Howard: Today is the fifth snow day. The calendar provides for three. Officials say the school year probably will be extended to June 21.

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