Next year's students will begin labors later; Baltimore County to start school after Labor Day


School's out for the summer Friday in Baltimore County, and students have reason to celebrate. Their summer vacation will be the longest in recent history, thanks in part to a revised Labor Day policy.

Students will return to classes on Sept. 5, after the Labor Day holiday.

The 2000-2001 school year is the first that students will start classes after the summer holiday, said Sharon Norman, director of Business, Community and Parent Relations.

The Baltimore County Board of Education retooled school system policy two years ago to allow more flexibility for the start of the school year.

School officials changed the policy so students wouldn't have to return to school for a day or two and then recess in observance of the national holiday.

School system administrators have put together a tentative calendar for the 2001-2002 school year that includes two additional half-days for some students. That calendar could be approved by the school board this month.

The 2001-2002 school year calendar includes eight half-days, compared with six scheduled for 2000-2001. The two additional half-days would be for elementary and middle schools and would give teachers more time to create assessments and evaluate results, said Norman.

Teachers support the additional half-days because many of them are forced to do assessments after a full day of teaching, said Cheryl Bost, vice president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County.

School system officials expect each school to monitor student progress with quarterly reports, data teachers must collect, she said.

"It's a time-consuming process," said Bost, a fourth-grade teacher at Mars Estates Elementary School.

Some parents have spoken out against the addition of more half-days to the school calendar because they say half-days disrupt learning.

Parents say they would rather see school system officials condense the number of half-days during the school year by combining them and excusing students from school for the entire day.

"We can understand that it is needed for teachers, but it does impede the instructional process," said Linda Olszewski, president of the Baltimore County PTA.

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