State board allows schools chance to waive snow days; Planned emergency time must have been used


The state school board gave Maryland's local school systems some relief yesterday for calendars complicated by bad weather.

The board gave state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick the authority to cut two days from the state's mandatory 180-day school calendar for the snowstorm that closed schools last Wednesday and Thursday -- the two days on which a state of emergency was declared across Maryland.

Grasmick also was given the power to waive two more days of mandatory instruction for Hurricane Floyd in those school systems in which the governor declared a state of emergency on Sept. 16 and 17.

"This will give school systems some relief," Grasmick said. "A number of them are already in discussions about holding class on Presidents Day or cutting into spring vacation." School systems need to apply to Grasmick for the waiver of up to four days, and Grasmick and the state board set three standards to be met:

School systems must have had at least three makeup days scheduled into their calendars that will need to be used.

School systems must have used emergency days and modified their calendars.

School systems must have extended their school year by at least five days beyond the originally scheduled last day of class.

If any school system asks for more than four days of instruction to be waived, the request will need to be approved by the state board, Grasmick said.

The last time the state school board permitted school systems to deviate from the 180-day calendar because of bad weather was in 1996, when two days were waived.

The issue of snow days also is expected to make its way to Annapolis today. Del. Joseph M. Getty, a Manchester Republican, and Del. Henry B. Heller, a Montgomery County Democrat, plan to introduce a bill that would free school systems from having to make up days lost when the governor declares a state of emergency in their local jurisdiction.

"It's only fair to our students that when local governments have off, when state government has off, when federal government has off and when private industry closes down -- and they all have to make up their work, but not the days -- we extend the same consideration to students," Getty said.

Sun staff writers David L. Greene and Lynn Anderson contributed to this article.

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