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Storm's final cruelty: 4 more school days


Here it is. Almost the last word on the Baltimore County's school calendar for what's left of this year:

"We're going to school April 5 and 6. We're going to school June 21 and 22 -- assuming it does not snow again," Superintendent Stuart Berger said yesterday.

The April days were originally scheduled as the beginning of spring break. The June days were originally scheduled for classes but were removed as part of a pay cut package the board proposed to teachers when it had to cut $6 million from the budget. Four days of snow closings ruined those plans.

The board decided to return the June days to the calendar rather than cut further into spring break.

Although April 5 and 6 were officially designated as possible makeup days when this year's calendar was drawn up, many teachers, parents and students made vacation plans anyway, because these days had never been needed for classes before.

"Every teacher who made irrevocable plans gambled," Dr. Berger said. "I have no trouble with people gambling, but I have trouble with them complaining when they lose."

Dr. Berger has, however, announced a liberal leave policy for teachers during spring break and a liberal excused absence policy for students with vacation plans.

But there's one more card.

Dr. Berger said he will ask the school board April 15 to consider requesting a waiver of the 180-day requirement, allowing the county to drop June 21 and 22.

There's also a question of money to be settled.

The Teachers Association of Baltimore County is voting through today on a contract amendment that would cut teachers' annual salaries by a little less than a day's pay to save the school system $1.3 million. If they reject the offer, they could lose two days' pay because the school board has said it would consider two snow days as retroactive furlough days.

Union officials originally recommended that their members reject the offer, hoping to force the board to restore the days cut from spring break. But with the vacation issue settled, rejection would just cost the teachers more money.

If the union rejects the proposal, Dr. Berger said yesterday that he would consider a one-day furlough, instead.

Dr. Berger said he'll have to live with the consequences, too. "The irony of all ironies: I was invited today to go to the baseball game April 5 [Orioles' Opening Day], and I am an avid baseball fan. But it's a school day. You will not find me at Camden Yards."

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