State is unlikely to allow schools to shorten year below 180 days


Baltimore-area school systems may have to dig themselves out of any holes left in their calendars by this week's snowstorm because the State Board of Education is unlikely to waive the requirement that students attend 180 days of classes.

In every metropolitan jurisdiction except Anne Arundel County, school systems have already used more than the number of snow days allotted in their calendars. That means the days will have to be made up by extending the school year or, in Baltimore County's case, cutting into spring vacation.

School systems may ask for waivers from state Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick, who would, in turn, present those requests to the State Board of Education, said Larry Chamblin, a spokesman for the Education Department.

But before the board would even consider a request, the school system must show that it has a calendar designed to accommodate the normal number of snow days expected (ranging from three to 10 around the state) and must have already added five makeup days to the end of its year.

Even then, the board can waive the last days of the school year only if they spill over into a new week, he said. For example, if the 178th day was on Wednesday -- even a hot Wednesday late in June -- schools would continue through the end of the week to meet the requirement.

In addition to these prerequisites, "Dr. Grasmick is on the record . . . stating that students in our schools need more instructional time rather than less," Mr. Chamblin added.

Nevertheless, he said, "I've seen the board grant several of them [waivers] . . . generally for counties in the western part of the state."

Although school officials in some districts have talked about seeking a waiver to solve the calendar problems created by this winter's storms, Dr. Grasmick has not received any requests so far.

"Normally, they would not come this early," said Mr. Chamblin.

Here's how the school system calendars break down:

Anne Arundel County, counting today's closing, has used all four snow days it scheduled.

Baltimore City was three days in the hole as of yesterday and will extend the school year through June 15.

Baltimore County had used four snow days as of yesterday but only scheduled two. It will probably take the two makeup days out of spring vacation.

Carroll County schools had used six snow days by yesterday but scheduled only three. The school board will decide whether to make up three extra days in June or ask for a waiver.

Harford County closed for the fifth day yesterday but only had four days on the calendar. School will be extended in June.

Howard County used its fifth snow day yesterday but only provided for three. The school year will probably be extended.

Nonpublic schools are required to have 170 instructional days.

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